At least a third of all food crops are pollinated by bees. But managed bee populations have been on the decline for some time, and now researchers at UC San Diego are hoping to strengthen the immune systems of honeybees. James Nieh, a professor in UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences, is leading an investigation into the efficacy of probiotics, nutritional supplements, and a vaccine-like treatment to resist common diseases, fight the effects of pesticides, and counter poor nutrition.
"We’re trying to figure out how we can do something sustainable that will actually let the bees help themselves, in a way," Nieh says, adding that an overall reduction in pesticide use would also help. "It’s not just about producing a certain tonnage of food, it’s about producing healthy food."