Honey bees play an immensely important role in agriculture, especially as a major pollinator of food crops. In addition to pollen, honey bees can be used to distribute biological agents such as fungi and bacteria right to the flowers where they are needed.
This technique has been applied to control fireblight (Erwinia amylovora) in orchards, gray mould (Botrytis cinerea) in strawberry and raspberry, brown rot (Monilinia fructicola) in cherries, and sunflower head rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). In practice, a dispenser containing a powder formulation of the biological agent is attached to the entrance of the hive so that bees exiting the hive pick it up and deliver it the target flowers as they forage.
This method has been used in South Africa and farm trials have shown that Eco-77 can be successfully dispersed by honey bees to prevent Botrytis in strawberries.
Shafir, S., Dag, A., Bilu, A., Abu-Toamy, M. and Elad, Y., 2006. Honey bee dispersal of the biocontrol agent Trichoderma harzianum T39: effectiveness in suppressing Botrytis cinerea on strawberry under field conditions. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 116(2), pp.119-128.
Kovach, J., Petzoldt, R. and Harman, G.E., 2000. Use of honey bees and bumble bees to disseminate Trichoderma harzianum 1295-22 to strawberries for Botrytis control. Biological Control, 18(3), pp.235-242.
Bilu, A., Dag, A., Elad, Y. and Shafir, S., 2004. Honey bee dispersal of biocontrol agents: an evaluation of dispensing devices. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 14(6), pp.607-617.
Vanneste, J.L., 1996. Honey bees and epiphytic bacteria to control fire blight, a bacterial disease of apple and pear. Biocontrol News and Information, 17, pp.67N-78N.
Escande, A.R., Laich, F.S. and Pedraza, M.V., 2002. Field testing of honeybee‐dispersed Trichoderma spp. to manage sunflower head rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). Plant pathology, 51(3), pp.346-351.