A decade ago, millions of bees mysteriously disappeared leaving farms with fewer pollinators for crops. What came to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder, the explanation for the event included exposure to pesticides, habitat loss and bacterial infections, but scientists now say antibiotics given to bees could also play a role. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin discovered that honey bees treated with a common antibiotic were half as likely to survive the week after treatment compared with a group of untreated bees, a finding that may have health implications for bees and people alike.
The scientists found the antibiotics cleared out beneficial gut bacteria in the bees, making way for a harmful pathogen, which also occurs in humans, to get a foothold. The research is the latest discovery to indicate overuse of antibiotics can sometimes make living things, including people, sicker.
Bees and humans both have a natural community of microbes in their guts, called a gut microbiome, which helps a variety of functions including modulating behavior, development and immunity.
Read more about the research.
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