Bumblebees and other pollinators face many threats, including pesticide exposure, climate change, habitat loss due to agriculture and development, and pathogens that ravage multiple species. But a recent finding may help lighten their load.
Previous studies have shown sunflower pollen can work like a medicine for bumblebees afflicted by a parasite called Crithidia bombi, a single-celled organism that takes up residence in the bee’s gut. But scientists couldn’t explain how sunflower pollen vanquished C. bombi—did it boost the bees’ immune function, or perhaps poison the parasite directly?
New research, published in the Journal of Insect Physiology, shows the answer is deceptively simple. “Sunflower pollen makes bumblebees poo a whole lot,” says lead author Jonathan Giacomini, which flushes the