– April 1, 2022
According to Dr. April Scherz of Freiebienen University, worker bees who dry nectar to make honey are exposed to concentrated sugar solutions for extended periods of time. Using an electron microscope Dr. Scherz and her team examined the mandibles of hundreds of house bees, finding a direct correlation between the time each bee spent drying nectar and the number of cavities in her mandibles. “The cavities act like open wounds,” Dr. Scherz explained, “allowing germs to spread through the entire colony population.”
Dr. Scherz currently is looking into whether a fluoride “mandible paste” — used once a week to brush the bees’ mandibles — can reduce or prevent cavities, thereby improving the health of the colony. A proprietary combination of essential oils that flavor the paste has been key to the bees accepting it. Dr. Scherz admits that “it helps to have a dedicated team of research assistants to keep up with the brushing.”
Dr. Scherz plans to have the first fluoride mandible paste kits available this fall. Each kit includes a set of tiny brushes beekeepers can use to brush their bees’ mandibles.
— Alan Eynon