Evaluation of lysozyme-HCl for the treatment of chalkbrood disease in honey bee colonies.
Chalkbrood, caused by Ascosphaera apis (Maassen and Claussen) Olive and Spiltor, is a cosmopolitan fungal disease of honey bee larvae (Apis mellifera L.) for which there is no chemotherapeutic control. We evaluated the efficacy of lysozyme-HCl, an inexpensive food-grade antimicrobial extracted from hen egg white, for the treatment of chalkbrood disease in honey bee colonies. Our study compared three doses of lysozyme-HCl in sugar syrup (600, 3,000, and 6,000 mg) administered weekly for 3 wk among chalkbrood-inoculated colonies, colonies that were inoculated but remained untreated, and colonies neither inoculated or treated. Lysozyme-HCl at the highest dose evaluated was found to suppress development of chalkbrood disease in inoculated colonies to levels observed in uninoculated, untreated colonies, and did not adversely affect adult bee survival or brood production. Honey production was significantly negatively correlated with increased disease severity but there were no significant differences in winter survival among treatment groups. Based on our results, lysozyme-HCl appears to be a promising, safe therapeutic agent for the control of chalkbrood in honey bee colonies.