Scientists from Lund University in Sweden discovered the groups of lactic acid bacteria, found in the stomachs of honeybees, which they claim could be used as an alternative to antibiotics when treating MRSA (meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureusis) and other forms of human bacteria.
Dr Tobias Olofsson from Lund University noted the effectiveness of the bacteria when treating wounds, which contained greater amounts of active substances compared to standard man-made antibiotics.
“Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria. When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat,” he said.
“It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees’ health and honey against other harmful micro-organisms.”
It is believed the use of the bacteria could be beneficial in developing countries, where large amounts of fresh honey is readily available, while researchers also noted it could be of benefit in western countries where antibiotic resistance is an issue affecting an increasing amount of the population.
Overuse of antibiotics even by GPs sparks fears of renewed medical dark age
Meanwhile the current study will be broadened to investigate whether the bacteria can treat tropical infections, in both humans and animals.
The new findings look set to once again spark the debate about the use of pesticides, with some environmental officials citing the use of chemicals as a major reason behind the decline of honeybee numbers in the UK.
A separate study, released earlier this year, found that the use of pesticides was having a major impact on honeybee, earthworm and butterfly populations in Britain, which was subsequently affecting the ecosystems of a broader number of animals and plants.
This led the Food and Environment Research Agency to begin work developing so called ‘bio pesticides’ which would pose a significantly reduced impact to honeybees and other wildlife when used on crops.