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Abstract

In this study we show that honey bee colonies placed in a greenhouse for pollination of strawberry can simultaneously be used to indicate the presence of the plant pathogenic bacterium Erwinia pyrifoliae. This was demonstrated by using two methods of qualitative sacrificial and non-sacrificial bio sampling of the honey bee colony. A novel method for non-sacrificial subsampling, named the Beehold device, was applied. Applying the Beehold device did not disturb or affect negatively the honey bee colony. The study demonstrated that the integration of pollination service and bio-sampling functioned. In the sacrificially derived honey bee subsamples, E. pyrifoliae was detected prior to any visible infection in the plant; however, E. pyrifoliae was detected via non-sacrificial sampling at the same time as plant infection was first observed. The Beehold device is a practical tool for monitoring plant pathogens via forager bees during flowering until fruit onset, but is not as sensitive as directly sampling honey bees.

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