Preparation of virus-enriched inoculum for oral infection of honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Edward M. Hsieh, Jimena Carrillo-Tripp, Adam G. Dolezal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Honey bees are of great ecological and agricultural importance around the world but are also subject to a variety of pressures that negatively affect bee health, including exposure to viral pathogens. Such viruses can cause a wide variety of devastating effects and can often be challenging to study due to multiple factors that make it difficult to separate the effects of experimental treatments from preexisting background infection. Here we present a method to mass produce large quantities of virus particles along with a high throughput bioassay to test viral infection and effects. Necessitated by the current lack of a continuous, virus-free honey bee cell line, viral particles are amplified in vivo using honey bee pupae, which are extracted from the hive in large volumes using minimally stressful methodology. These virus particles can then be used in honey bee cage bioassays to test inocula viability, as well as various other virus infection dynamics, including interactions with nutrition, pesticides, and other pathogens. A major advantage of using such particles is that it greatly reduces the chances of introducing unknown variables in subsequent experimentation when compared to current alternatives, such as infection via infected bee hemolymph or homogenate, though care should still be taken when sourcing the bees, to minimize background virus contamination. The cage assays are not a substitute for large-scale, field-realistic experiments testing virus infection effects at a colony level, but instead function as a method to establish baseline viral responses that, in combination with the semi-pure virus particles, can serve as important tools to examine various dimensions of honey bee-virus physiological interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61725
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number162
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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