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Propolis Immunity - M Shanahan

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  • Propolis Immunity - M Shanahan
    1 University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, USA, 2 El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, San Cristóbal de las Casas, MEXICO

    Social insects employ behavioral, physiological, and organizational strategies – called social immunity – to defend against pathogens within the crowded colony nest environment. One form of social immunity is the collection of antimicrobial resins. Honey bees and stingless bees use resin, or “propolis” to seal the cracks and crevices found in the hollow tree cavities where they nest. Propolis-rich nest environments have been shown to reduce clinical signs of honey bee brood diseases and modulate the immune response of individual bees, allowing otherwise chronically activated immune systems to rest and respond more effectively to acute threats. Propolis use in honey bees has been researched extensively, and the therapeutic value of propolis to humans is well-established, but comparatively little is known about the benefits of propolis to stingless bee health. Tree-nesting stingless bees construct propolis-rich structures (e.g. batumen) in the hollow tree cavities where they naturally nest. However, some stingless bee management practices may reduce propolis deposition. If propolis- rich environments support stingless bee immune systems (as occurs in honey bees), then decreasing propolis deposition will likely have negative consequences for stingless bee health. I review our current knowledge of propolis use in honey bees and discuss opportunities for applying honey bee research methods to the stingless bee system to address unanswered questions around resin use and social immunity in stingless bees.
    1. Benefits
      1. Colonies increase collection of propolis when challenged by disease
      2. When added to the hive:
        1. Genes that code for antimicrobial proteins go down (down regulate)
        2. Colony health goes up
        3. Survivorship goes up
        4. Colony resistance goes up
        5. Negative microbes go down
    2. Modified surface texture to promote resin collection: 3 groups done
      1. Smooth traditional
      2. Rough wood - vertical roughening simulating long ridges in a tree cavity
      3. Propolis traps tacked on to inner surfaces
    3. Resin used to immobilize predators and deter ants
    4. Contributes to cuticular hydrocarbon profile in some species of that the case in HB?
      1. Smell Increases hivemate recognition
    5. Both HB and stingless use similar sets of skills to combat pest and diseases.
    Kalispell, Montana Zone 4a
    Certified Master Beekeeper