Bumblebee picks up and delivers pest control seven days a week with no chemicals.
Photo Credit: Les Shipp/Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

Getting bees to help control pests


Canadian researchers have found that bees can be used to deliver pest control agents to plants as they pollinate them.  Bees leaving their hives walk through a tray of organic pest controls that stick to their legs and hair. When they pollinate the plants they leave behind the fungus, bacterium or virus that then infect and kill the pests.

Bees are forced to walk through a tray of microbial control agents when they leave the hive. © Courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Bees deliver natural pest control agents

“We’re using the bees to reduce the amount of chemicals that are put in,” says Les Shipp, a senior research scientist with the Canadian government who has been working on the technique. “So we’re not applying chemicals. We’re applying beneficial microbial agents.”

Ship uses agents that are native to the areas, so there is no danger of an invasive species getting out of control. He does not use wild bees, but bumblebees which are bred specifically for pollination.

Value-added bees

“What we just added was a little extra value to the bees,” Shipp says. “So they can do the pollination and the delivery of this pest control agent at the same time.”

Some diseases were reduced by 80 per cent in some of Shipp experiments with pest and fungus diseases. Bee vectoring, as the technique is called, was approved for treating the fungus Beauvaria Bassiana by the Canadian government earlier this year. Ship believes it is the first time in the world this technique has been officially approved.

Scientist Les Shipp hopes using bees can reduce the use of chemicals to control pests. © Debbie Lockrey-Wessel

Advantages of using bees

“They’re out there working seven days a week. You’re getting continuous introduction of control agents,” Shipp said. “If you sprayed, you’re only spraying at one point in time, but the bees are there constantly delivering this.

“I wouldn’t look at it as a silver bullet. It’s another tool to control pests and diseases. We hope it drastically reduces sprays.”

Company develops commercial applications

The technology is being developed for commercial use by a company called Bee Vectoring Technology. It would be used on both indoor and outdoor crops like strawberries, sunflowers, blueberries, canola, peppers and tomatoes.

Other countries have expressed interest in bee vectoring. Shipp has had inquiries from and collaboration with people from Korea, China, South America, Mexico and Europe.

Categories: Environment, Internet, Science and Technology

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.