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Male bees protect female bees from sexually transmitted diseases

Staff writer ▼ | January 21, 2016
The seminal fluid of male bees kills the widespread sexually transmitted fungus Nosema apis, offering queen bees protection from the parasite which can be passed on during bee sex.
Nature   From The University of Western Australia:
The research from a team of researchers from The University of Western Australia's Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) is good news for honey bees in helping scientists look at new ways of addressing the world-wide decline of the bee population.

CIBER Director Professor Boris Baer said the study found that male honey bee semen produced protein molecules that cause the Nosema apis fungus spores to prematurely germinate, killing them because they cannot survive outside of their hosts' cells.

Another smaller molecule in the bee's semen was able to quickly kill the fungus spores directly.

"We also found that these immune molecules in the bee semen were specifically active against the fungus but had no effect on other microorganisms," Professor Baer said.

"This finding was surprising, because insect immune systems are often believed to be primitive and not very complex or specific."

Professor Baer said the spread of parasites and pathogens globally are known culprits contributing to the alarming losses of millions of bees every year.