Nosema apis is a tiny one-cell parasite recently reclassified as a fungus. It causes a serious infection in bees that disrupts the health of the bee gut. The sick bee becomes not only disoriented and unable to do its normal activities such as foraging or caring for bee larva.



A honeybee alights on a fountain, searching for water

A foraging honeybee quenches its thirst on water fountain



Nosema is one, among many threats, to the global honeybee population. The infection has been associated with colony collapse disorder. But now science has shown that healing and improved survival rates from nosema (also known as nosemosis) is possible through the aid of probiotics.


In most instances, the fungus (that bees pick up as they ingest their food) causes no harm. But stress seems to create conditions for the fungus to invade and wreak havoc on the bee’s immune system. Just as probiotics support human gut microbiota (the microbe population in the human intestine) so, too, do probiotics appear to help the bee microbiota to better deal with a nosema infection.



Healthy bees on a frame

Healthy bees on a frame




In a Canadian study conducted by scientists at Université Laval in Quebec City, researchers discovered that they could lower the death rate of the bees suffering from nosema from 20 to 40 percent as compared to a control group by treating the sick bees with probiotics. In particular, a probiotic (P. apium) seemed to work best in the study.


Developing probiotics with specific microbes to contend with nosema is promising. But for beekeepers and scientists searching for the causes of colony collapse disorder, the work goes on to identify sources of stress that adversely affect the immune system of bees. For more information, see,





If you enjoy reading about gardening and farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing).


Each book is chocked full of tips for gardening, keeping bees and chickens, and growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. There are also plenty of delicious recipes to try. Find these books in hardcover, paperback, ore ebook formats on, Barnes &, and other online retailers or purchase at traditional bookstores everywhere.–Meera Lester




All available online and in bookstores everywhere

All available online and in bookstores everywhere












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Chicken Bad Behavior–Best Nipped in the Bud

Author: Meera, November 24, 2015

Many factors can affect the health and egg laying of your chicken flock, including weather, housing, size of population, breed, molting, parasite load, and nutrition. But when chickens start viciously pecking other hens or eating eggs, the underlying issues must be addressed.



The silver-laced Wyandotte (black-and-white) hen in the foreground succumbed to the extreme heat during the night

Silver-laced Wyandottes  (black-and-white) and a Giant Cochin (all black)




Most often, the issue is a case of stress. Causes of chicken stress include overcrowding, excessive heat, too much bright light, lack of food and/or fresh water, and bad diet.




Other factors can include disruption of the pecking order by introducing new birds, especially those of other breeds (for example, fowl with combs and those without) or mixing old fowl with young.  These factors all relate to flock management.



These six-month-old hens love treats like greens from the garden

My small flock devouring greens from the garden




When birds start eating eggs (usually finding a cracked egg or broken ones, tasting them, and then pecking eggs to break them to eat) or viciously pecking on other hens, it’s best to figure out what in the hens’ environment is causing the stress. The causes must be eliminated.


For more tips on farming and beekeeping, plus delicious recipes, check out my newest mystery–A BEELINE TO MURDER. See,





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