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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353956

Title: Optimizing the Benefits of Propolis to Honey Bee Health in Beekeeping Operations

item SHANAHAN, MAGGIE - University Of Minnesota
item Simone-Finstrom, Michael
item SPIVAK, MARLA - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Entomological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wild honey bee colonies coat the rough inner surfaces of hollow tree cavities with propolis, a substance comprised primarily of plant resins, and the resulting “propolis envelope” serves both structural and therapeutic functions inside the hive. Though previous studies have shown that the presence of a propolis envelope leads to both individual and colony-level health benefits through the modulation of immune gene expression and increased colony strength, propolis has yet to be implemented as a tool to boost colony health in day-to-day beekeeping operations. Moreover, the smooth surfaces of the standardized wooden bee boxes currently used in beekeeping do not encourage bees to build a propolis envelope. In this study, we examined how to best stimulate colonies to construct a propolis envelope that provides significant health benefits. Four different treatment groups were tested: (1) a control group using standard smooth bee boxes without propolis traps, (2) unfinished bee boxes with rough interior surfaces, (3) conventional propolis traps placed on three interior hive walls and entrance, and (4) conventional propolis traps placed on a single interior hive wall and entrance. Standard indicators of colony health were measured, and bee samples were collected to test immune gene expression using quantitative PCR techniques. To further evaluate the benefits of different propolis trap configurations, colony response to challenge fungal pathogen Ascosphaera apis was assessed. The results of this study will help beekeepers optimize the benefits of the propolis envelope in their operations.