Apivectoring: Harnessing pollinators for sustainable crop protection and pollination

Jump To References Section


  • Department of Entomology, CSK HPKV, Palampur – 176062, Himachal Pradesh ,IN
  • Department of Entomology, CSK HPKV, Palampur – 176062, Himachal Pradesh ,IN




Apivectoring, biocontrol, diseases, insect pests, pollination


Apivectoring, or Pollinator Biocontrol Vector Technology, employs bees to distribute biological control agents, offering a sustainable solution for managing plant diseases and insect pests while enhancing crop yield and quality. The most commonly used vectors in apivectoring are honey bees and bumble bees, though there’s potential to explore other pollinator species. Commercial dispensers like BeeTreat Dispenser®, BVT Inoculum Dispenser® and Flying Doctors® have been developed in countries like Finland, Belgium, and Canada, respectively. Though initially pioneered in North America, Australia, and Europe, this method is now being evaluated in India. The technology is a promising alternative to chemical pest control, reducing pesticide usage and ensuring crop pollination, although challenges remain in regions deprived of local rearing and/or research facilities.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...




How to Cite

SHARMA, A., & SHARMA, D. (2024). Apivectoring: Harnessing pollinators for sustainable crop protection and pollination. Journal of Biological Control, 38(1), 18–28. https://doi.org/10.18311/jbc/2024/35302



Review Articles
Received 2023-10-08
Accepted 2024-03-11
Published 2024-04-11



Albano, S., Chagnon, M., de Oliveira, D., Houle, E., Thibodeau, P. O., and Mexia, A. 2009. Effectiveness of Apis mellifera and Bombus impatiens as dispensers of the root shield bio-fungicide (Trichoderma harzianum, strain T-22) in a strawberry crop. Hell Plant Prot J, 2: 57-66.

Al-mazra’awi, M. S. 2004. Biological control of tarnished plant bugs and western fower thrips by Beauveria bassiana vectored by bee pollinators, [Doctoral dissertation, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada].

Al-mazra’awi, M. S. J. L., Shipp, A. B., Broadbent, and Kevan, P. G. 2006. Biological control of Lygus lineolaris (Hemiptera: Miridae) and Frankliniella occidentalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) by Bombus impatiens (Hymenoptera: Apidae) vectored Beauveria bassiana in greenhouse sweet pepper. Biol Control, 37: 89-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2005.11.014

Al-mazra’awi, M. S., Kevan, P. G., and Shipp, L. 2007. Development of Beauveria bassiana dry formulation for vectoring by honey bees Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) to the flowers of crops for pest control. Biocontrol Sci Techn, 17: 733-741. https://doi.org/10.1080/09583150701484759

Butt, T. M., Carreck, N. L., Ibrahim, L., and Williams, I. H. 1998. Honey bee-mediated infection of pollen beetle (Meligethes aeneus Fab.) by the insect-pathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae. Biocontrol Sci Techn, 8: 533-538. https://doi.org/10.1080/09583159830045

Carreck, N. L., Butt, T. M., Clark, S. J., Ibrahim, L., Isger, E. A., Pell, J. K., and Williams, I. H. 2007. Honey bees can disseminate a microbial control agent to more than one inflorescence pest of oilseed rape. Biocontrol Sci Techn, 17: 179-191. https://doi.org/10.1080/09583150600937485

Cornish, D. A., Voyle, M. D., Haine, H. M., Goodwin, R. M., and Vanneste, J. L. 1998. Distribution of beneficial bacteria on nashi and apple flowers using honey bees. Proceedings of the N Z Plant Prot Conference, 51: 107- 111. https://doi.org/10.30843/nzpp.1998.51.11667

Demirozer, O., Uzun, A., Yanik, G., Bulus, I. Y., and Gosterit, A. 2022. Investigation of the efficacy of some biopesticides by food exposure on Bombus terrestris L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J Apic Res, 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2022.2054538

Escande, A. R., Laich, F. S., and Pedraza, M. V. 2002. Field testing of Honey bee-dispersed Trichoderma spp. to manage sunflower head rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). Plant Pathol, 51: 346-351. https://doi.org/10.1046/ j.1365-3059.2002.00723.x

Gill, R. J., Baldock, K. C., Brown, M. J., Cresswell, J. E., Dicks, L. V., Fountain, M. T., Garratt, M. P., Gough, L. A., Heard, M. S., and Holland, J. M. O. J. 2016. Protecting an ecosystem service: Approaches to understanding and mitigating threats to wild insect pollinators. Adv Ecol Res, 54: 135-206. https://doi. org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2015.10.007

Gross, H. R., Hamm, J. J., and Carpenter, J. E. 1994. Design and application of a hive mounted device that uses honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) to disseminate Heliothis nuclear polyhedrosis virus. Environ Entomol, 23: 492- 501. https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/23.2.492

Hokkanen, H., and Menzler-Hokkanen, I. 2007. Use of Honey bees in the biological control of plant diseases. Entomol Res, 37: 62-63.

Hokkanen, H. M. T., Menzler-Hokkanen, I., and Lahdenpera, M. L. 2015. Managing bees for delivering biological control agents and improved pollination in berry and fruit cultivation. Sustain Agric Res, 4(3): 89-102. https://doi.org/10.5539/sar.v4n3p89

Hokkanen, H. M. T., Menzler-Hokkanen, I., and Mustalahti, A. M. 2011. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) for precision biocontrol of grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) with Gliocladium catenulatum on strawberries and raspberries in Finland. Arthropod-Plant Inte (submitted).

Hoogendoorn, K. 2014. Flying doctor bees to prevent cherry disease. University of Adelaide News and Events. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news73482.html

Israel, M., and Boland, G. 1993. Influence of formulation on efficacy of honey bees to transmitbiological controls for management of Sclerotinia stem rot of canola. Can J Plant Pathol, 14: 244.

Joshi, N. K., Ngugi, H. K., and Biddinger, D. J. 2020. Bee vectoring: Development of the Japanese orchard bee as a targeted delivery system of biological control agents for fire blight management. Pathog, 9(41): 1-11. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9010041 PMid:31947931 PMCid:PMC7168677

Joyoti, J. L., and Brewer, G. J. 1999. Honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as vectors of Bacillus thuringiensis for control of banded sunflower moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Environ Entomol, 28: 1127- 1176. https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/28.6.1172

Kapongo, J. P., Shipp, L., Kevan, P., and Sutton, J. C. 2008. Co-vectoring of Beauveria bassiana and Clonostachys rosea by bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) for control of insect pests and suppression of grey mould in green house tomato and sweet pepper. Biol Control, 46: 508- 514. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2008.05.008

Keswani, C., Singh, S. P., and Singh, H. B. 2013. Beauveria bassiana: Status, mode of action, applications and safety issues. Biotech Today, 3(1): 1-20. https://doi. org/10.5958/j.2322-0996.3.1.002

Kevan, P. G., Al-mazra’awi, M. S., Sutton, J. C., Tam, L., Boland, G., Broadbent, A. B., Thomson, S. B., and Brewer, G. J. 2003. Using pollinators to deliver biological control agents to crops. In: Downer RA et al., (eds.). Pesticide formulations and delivery systems: meeting the challenges of the current crop protection industry (pp.148-153). American Society for Testing and Material. https://doi.org/10.1520/STP11120S

Kevan, P. G., Shipp, L., Kapongo, J. P., and Al-mazra’awi, M. S. 2005. Bee pollinators vector biological control agents against insect pests of horticultural plants. In: Sanzo MG et al., (eds.). First short course on pollination of horticulture plants (pp. 77-95). Almeria.

Kevan, P. G., Kapongo, J. P., Al-mazra’awi, M., and Shipp, L. 2008. Honey bees, bumble bees and biocontrol: New alliances between old friends. In: James RR et al. (eds.). Bee pollination in agricultural systems. Oxford University Press.

Kevan, P. G., Shipp, L., and Smagghe, G. 2020. Ecological intensification: Managing biocomplexity and biodiversity in agriculture through pollinators, pollination and deploying biocontrol agents against crop and pollinator diseases, pests and parasites. In: Smaggh G et al. (eds.). Entomovectoring for precision biocontrol and enhanced pollination of crops (19-51), Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18917-4_2

Khalifa, S. A. M., Elshafiey, E. H., Shetaia, A. A., El-Wahed, A. A. A., Algethami, A. F., Musharraf, S. G., AlAjmi, M. F., Zhao, C., Masry, S. H. D., and Abdel-Daim, M. M. 2021. Overview of bee pollination and its economic value for crop production. Insects, 12(68): 1-23. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080688 PMid:34442255 PMCid:PMC8396518

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. Biol Control, 18: 235-242. https://doi.org/10.1006/bcon.2000.0839

Li, G. Q., Huang, H. C., Acarya, S. N., and Erickson, R. S. 2005. Effectiveness of Coniothyrium minitans and Trichoderma atroviride in suppression of Sclerotinia blossom blight of alfalfa. Plant Pathol, 54: 204-211. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3059.2005.01119.x

Maccagnani, B., and Sgolastra, F. 2020. Solitary bees as pollinators. In: Smagghe G et al., (eds.). Entomovectoring for precision biocontrol and enhanced pollination of crops (pp. 63-79). Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18917-4_4

Maccagnani, B., Giacomello, F., Fanti, M., Gobbin, D., Maini, S., and Angeli, G. 2009. Apis mellifera and Osmia cornuta as carriers for the secondary spread of Bacillus subtilis on apple flowers. BioControl, 54: 123- 133. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-008-9163-z

Maccagnani, B., Mocioni, M., Gullino, M. L., and Ladurner, E. 1999. Application of Trichoderma harzianum by using Apis mellifera as a vector for the control of grey mold of strawberry: first results. IOBC Bull, 22: 161- 164.

Maccagnani, B., Mocioni, M., Ladurner, E., Gullino, M. L., and Maini, S. 2005. Investigation of hive- mounted devices for the dissemination of microbiological preparations by Bombus terrestris. Bull Insectology, 53: 3-8.

Maccagnani, B. 2014. BICOPOLL Final Report for Italy. BICOPOLL Final Meeting, Aland Islands, Finland.

Macharia, J. M., Gikungu, M. W., Karanja, R., and Okoth, S. 2020. Managed bees as pollinators and vectors of bio control agent against gray mold disease in strawberry plantations. Afr J Agric Res, 16(12): 1674-1680. https://doi.org/10.5897/AJAR2020.15203

MacInnis, G., and Forrest, J. R. K. 2020. Field design can affect cross-pollination and crop yield in strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa D.). Agric Ecosyst Environ, 289: 106738- 106745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.106738

McKinney, M. I., and Park, Y. L. 2012. Nesting activity and behavior of Osmia cornifrons (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) elucidated using videography. Psyche, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/814097

Mommaerts, V., and Smagghe, G. 2011. Entomovectoring in plant protection. Arthropod-Plant Inte, 5: 81-95. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11829-011-9123-x

Mommaerts, V., Jans, K., and Smagghe, G. 2010a. Impact of Bacillus thuringiensis strains on survival, reproduction and foraging behaviour in bumble bees (Bombus terrestris). Pest Manag. Sci, 66(5): 520-525. https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.1902 PMid:20024947

Mommaerts, V., Put, K., and Smagghe, G. 2011. Bombus terrestris as pollinator and vector to suppress Botrytis cinerea in greenhouse strawberry. Pest Manag. Sci, 67: 1069-1075. https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.2147 PMid:21394887

Mommaerts, V., Put, K., Vandeven, J., Jans, K., Sterk, G., Hoffmannc, L., and Smagghe, G. 2010b. Development of a new dispenser for microbiological control agents and evaluation of dissemination by bumble bees in greenhouse strawberries. Pest Manag Sci, 66(11): 1199-1207. https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.1995 PMid:20672338

Morse, R. A., and Nowogrodzki, R. 1990. Honey bee pests, predators and diseases. Ithaca, Y Comstock Press.

Ngugi, H. K., Dedej, S., Delaplane, K. S., Savelle, A. T., and Sherm, H. 2005. Effect of flower-applied serenade biofungicide (Bacillus subtilis) on pollination-related variables in rabbit eye blueberry. Biol Control, 33: 32-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2005.01.002

Peng, G., Sutton, J., and Kevan, P. 1992. Effectiveness of honey bees for applying the biocontrol agent Gliocladium roseum to strawberry flowers to suppress Botrytis cinerea. Can J Plant Pathol, 14: 117-129. https://doi.org/10.1080/07060669209500888

Ricketts, T. H. 2004. Tropical forest fragments enhance pollinator activity in nearby coffee crops. Conserv Biol, 18: 1262-1271. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00227.x

Shafir, S., Dag, A., Bilu, A., Abu-Toamy, M., and Elad, Y. 2006. Honey bee dispersion of the biocontrol agent Trichoderma harzianum T 39: Effectiveness in suppressing Botrytis cinerea on strawberry under field conditions. Eur J Plant Pathol, 116: 119-128. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10658-006-9047-y

Shaw, D. E. 1999. Bees and fungi: With special reference to certain plant pathogens. Australas Plant Pathol, 28: 269-282. https://doi.org/10.1071/AP99044

Smagghe, G., De Meyer, L., Meeus, I., and Mommaerts, V. 2013. Safety and acquisition potential of Metarhizium anisopliae in entomovectoring with bumble bees, Bombus terrestris. J Econ Entomol, 106: 277-282. https://doi.org/10.1603/EC12332 PMid:23448041

Smith, B., Sampson, B., and Walter, W. 2012. Efficacy of bumble bee disseminated biological control agents for control of Botrytis blossom blight of rabbit eye blueberry. Int J Fruit Sci, 12: 156-168. https://doi.org/10.1080/15538362.2011.619359

Sutton, J., and Kevan, P. G. 2012. Bee vectoring of biocontrol agents for better strawberries. North American Strawberry Growers Association Newsletter.

Svedelius, G. 2000. Humlor som bärare av biologisk kontrollav svampsjukdomen svartprickröta i gurkfrukter. Växtskyddsnotiser, 64(3-4): 48-50.

Taning, C. N. T., and Smagghe, G. 2020. Threat of Drosophila suzukii as an invasive species and the potential of entomovectoring. In: Smagghe G et al. (eds.). Entomovectoring for precision biocontrol and enhanced pollination of crops. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18917-4_9

Thomson, S. V., Hansen, D. R., Flint, K. M., and Vandenberg, J. D. 1992. Dissemination of bacteria antoganistsic to Erwinia amylovora by honey bees. Plant Dis, 76: 1052- 1056. https://doi.org/10.1094/PD-76-1052

Urena, J. V., and Chuncho, C. G. M. 2003. Utilizacion de abejas para la dispersion de Beauveria bassiana en el control biológico de la broca del café. Revista Informativa Área Agropecuria y de Recursos Naturales Renovables, Universidad Nacional de Loja, Ecuador.

Vakaliya, M. A., and Borad, C. K. 2017. Evaluation of honey bee as entomovector of HaNPV. Biosci Trends, 10(43): 8893-8900.

Vanneste, J. L., Cornish, D. A., Yu, J., and Voyle, M. D. 2002. A new biological control agent for control of fire blight which can be sprayed or distributed using honey bees. In: Hale C and Mitchell R (eds.). Conference: 9th International Workshop on Fire Blight Location: Napier, New Zealand, Proceedings of the IXth International Workshop on Fire Blight. Acta Hortic, 590: 231-235. https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2002.590.33

Wael, L., Greef, M., and Laere, O. 1990. The honey bee as a possible vector of Erwinia amylovora (Burr.). Acta Hortic, 273: 107-114. https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1990.273.14

Wodehouse, R. P. 1959. Pollen grains: Their structure, identification and significance in science and medicine. New York: Hafner.