Nosema ceranae Escapes Fumagillin Control in Honey Bees

Fumagillin is the only antibiotic approved for control of nosema disease in honey bees and has been extensively used in United States apiculture for more than 50 years for control of Nosema apis. It is toxic to mammals and must be applied seasonally and with caution to avoid residues in honey. Fumagillin degrades or is diluted in hives over the foraging season, exposing bees and the microsporidia to declining concentrations of the drug. We showed that spore production by Nosema ceranae, an emerging microsporidian pathogen in honey bees, increased in response to declining fumagillin concentrations, up to 100% higher than that of infected bees that have not been exposed to fumagillin. The current application protocol for fumagillin may exacerbate N. ceranae infection rather than suppress it.