Honey bees have immune defenses both as individuals and as a colony (e.g., individual and social immunity). One form of honey bee social immunity is the collection of antimicrobial plant resins and the deposition of the resins as a propolis envelope within the nest. In this study, we tested the efects of the propolis envelope as a natural defense against Paenibacillus larvae, the causative agent of American foulbrood (AFB) disease. Using colonies with and without a propolis envelope, we quantifed: 1) the antimicrobial activity of larval food fed to 1–2day old larvae; and 2) clinical signs of AFB. Our results show that the antimicrobial activity of larval food was signifcantly higher when challenged colonies had a propolis envelope compared to colonies without the envelope. In addition, colonies with a propolis envelope had signifcantly reduced levels of AFB clinical signs two months following challenge. Our results indicate that the propolis envelope serves as an antimicrobial layer around the colony that helps protect the brood from bacterial pathogen infection, resulting in a lower colony-level infection load.
Borba, R., & Spivak, M. (2017). Propolis envelope in Apis mellifera colonies supports honey bees against the pathogen, Paenibacillus larvae. Sci Rep, 7(1), 11429.
Borba, Renata S.; Spivak, Marla.
Propolis envelope in Apis mellifera colonies supports honey bees against the pathogen, Paenibacillus larvae.
Nature Publishing Group.
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