An Irish company has unveiled plans to tackle the dramatic decline of the bee population.
Beemune claims its natural feed product can help save millions of pollinators from potentially deadly infections which threaten global food production.
The firm, a spin-off from the National University of Maynooth in Co Kildare, hopes to tap into the multi-million euro commercial bee industry which has sprung up internationally as a result of the falling number of honeybees.
"The population decline is a major problem. If bees don't pollinate crops we will lose 40% of world food production," Beemune's chief scientific officer Dr Kevin Kavanagh said.
"For many people bees mean honey but if people look in their fruit bowl all of that fruit has been pollinated by bees.
"The bee is the unseen worker in producing huge amounts of food worldwide."
Over the past decade commercially managed honeybees have suffered from increasing ill health due to parasites, new pesticides and reducing gene pools.
A further blow was dealt in 2007 by the deadly colony collapse disorder (CCD) which saw almost two-thirds of the entire commercial bee population wiped out during winter hibernation.
Insect biology expert Dr Kavanagh said the company's food ingredients would improve the nutrition of bees, boost their immune systems and help them survive the stresses of the environment and modern farming methods.
"It is no exaggeration to say that the commercial bee industry would not be able to survive another CCD epidemic like in 2007," he said.