Disease-mitigating innovations for the pollination service industry: challenges and opportunities
Rowan, Neil J.
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Commercially reared bumblebees are often deployed for fruit, vegetable, and seed crop pollination. Commercial bumblebee pollination contributes significantly to economic and nutritional security, thus maintaining healthy stocks should be a priority for bumblebee producers. Honey bee-collected pollen is used as a nutritional source for bumblebee rearing but potential contamination of pollen with pathogens requires mitigation to limit spread of infectious diseases. Gamma irradiation is the primary means of sterilizing pollen, but limitations, including offsite access to Cobalt-60, warrant exploration into alternatives. Sterilization technologies used in the food safety and medical device sectors, such as pulsed UV and electron beam, offer options with the potential to deliver safe, effective, and less-restrictive mitigation. Adopting these alternatives could ultimately support healthy bumblebee stocks and reduce transmission to other bees.
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