The guts of a honeybee


The tiny intestines of the honeybee contain a world of even tinier life.


A scanning electron microscope image of a honeybee’s midgut.
A scanning electron microscope image of a honeybee’s midgut.
Åsmund Andersen

The guts of a honeybee are much like our own, in some ways. They contain a rich, thriving microbial community that functions symbiotically with the bee: the intestinal bacteria live on the food the bee eats and are adapted to the gut environment, and in return they provide essential digestive services.

Recent research into the honeybee’s internal microflora made a curious discovery. When one strain of these bacteria acquired antibiotic resistance, they passed it on to the others in the gut. This was a surprise, and emphasises the importance of keeping antibiotics out of the food chain.

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.14392/abstract
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