Different bees as vectors for entomovectoring with enhanced pollination and crop protection control: current practices, use-cases and critical view on transport


J. Temmermans & G. Smagghe

Honeybees, bumblebees, and other insects have been used commercially for pollination for many years and microbial biocontrol agents have also been widely used in pest control. Pollinators and formulations of microbial pest control agents are routinely transported internationally on a large scale. A novel approach has been developed to use bees as vectors of microbial agents, by inoculating the surface of the pollinators using dispensers in modified hives. This innovation extends the market for these products and results in better yields. A successful entomovector system requires selection of the vector pollinator most appropriate for the crop and location, based on various criteria, in combination with a registered microbial agent. Currently, pollinators and microbial agents are packed separately and combined at the point of use. Local sourcing of the pollinator in the system reduces the need for long-distance shipping of these live insects and may improve efficiency due to local adaptation but will delay use and benefits of the system until research at each site/country catches up with the work already conducted in a few countries. In the meantime, clear guidance for innovative systems employing live insects could support the promising increase to food production.

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