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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339140

Research Project: Genetics and Breeding in Support of Honey Bee Health

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: Propolis counteracts some threats to honey bee health

Author
item Simone-finstrom, Michael
item Borba, Renata - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item Wilson, Michael - University Of Minnesota
item Spivak, Marla - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/21/2017
Publication Date: 4/29/2017
Citation: Simone-Finstrom, M., Borba, R.S., Wilson, M.B., Spivak, M. 2017. Propolis counteracts some threats to honey bee health. Insects. 8(2):46. doi:10.3390/insects8020046.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees are constantly dealing with threats from pathogens, pests, pesticides and poor nutrition. It is critically important to understand how honey bees’ natural immune responses (individual immunity) and collective behavioral defenses (social immunity), can improve bee health. One form of social immunity in honey bee colonies is the formation of a propolis envelope, made up of bee-collected plant resins, within the nest that acts as an important antimicrobial layer. While a propolis envelope cannot mitigate all colony stressors, we review research to date on its known benefits to bee health. We also suggest research avenues that could reveal additional ways propolis may improve colony productivity.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations in North America and Europe are currently experiencing high and unsustainable annual losses. It is critically important to understand the impact of individual stressors and the interactions among stressors in order to develop solutions to increase colony health and survival. It is equally important to understand how honey bees’ natural immune responses (individual immunity) and collective behavioural defenses (social immunity), can improve bee health and counteract stressors without human intervention. One form of social immunity in honey bee colonies is the formation of a propolis envelope within the nest that acts as an important antimicrobial layer. While a propolis envelope cannot mitigate all colony stressors, we review research to date on its known benefit to individual immunity and effect on reducing pathogen loads. We also suggest research avenues that could reveal additional ways propolis may improve colony health and resiliency.