, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 191–195 | Cite as

Detection of aerosolized bacterial spores (Bacillus atrophaeus) using free-flying honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as collectors

  • Bruce Lighthart
  • Kevin R. S. Prier
  • Jerry J. Bromenshenk


An aerosol cloud of Bacillus atrophaeus (previously B. subtilis variety niger) spores, an anthrax surrogate, was created in a large 0.4 ha (1 ac), bee-containing, open-mesh tent. Bees from a B. atrophaeus uncontaminated hive flying through the cloud adsorbed the spores in statistically significant quantities. After removal of the B. atrophaeus contaminated hive and introduction of another B. atrophaeus uncontaminated hive, the bees again were monitored for the next few days for B. atrophaeus spores. B. atrophaeus spores accumulated on the bees’ bodies following their exposure to the residual B. atrophaeus contamination in the tent. The spore loads on the bees quickly returned to background levels after the hives were removed from the contaminated tent area. It may therefore be practical to use honey bee colonies to monitor foraging areas for disease-causing spores.

bacterial spores collector honey bees sampler Electrostatic 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Lighthart
    • 1
    • 2
    • 2
  • Kevin R. S. Prier
    • 1
  • Jerry J. Bromenshenk
    • 2
  1. 1.Microbial Aerosol Research Laboratory LLCMonmouthUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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