Neonicotinoid insecticides are banned in many countries because of their association with bee colony collapse, but are still found in 86% of honey samples from North America and 80% from Asia.
The beneficial role that Lactobacilli may be able to play will be discussed by Dr Gregor Reid, from Western University in Canada, and Dr Akihito Endo, from the Tokyo University of Agriculture, at the forthcoming ISAPP conference in Singapore.
Some of Dr Reid's work is about to be published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, showing in a Drosophila model of the honey bee that the pesticides not only harm the immune system, but alter the gut microbiota in a manner detrimental to the host.
The Lactobacillus kunkeei species that Dr Endo described in 2012 as being important to honey bee health has been shown in two new Beneficial Microbes papers to counter the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and honey bee pathogens Paenibacillus larvae and Nosema ceranae.
Dr Reid noted: "We know that authorities across Asia are keen to counter the impact of environmental pollutants, as they understand that not only are these compounds associated with many illnesses, but the socio-economic implications of the destruction of pollinators would be devastating.
"This is the first microbiome or probiotic conference to highlight the link between insect and human health, and present data supporting a role in countering these important problems."