Increased resin deposition in hives alters immune response of managed colonies in stationary and migratory beekeeping operations

Honey bees have evolved many mechanisms at the colony level that protect them against various stressors. One example of these types of social immune defenses is the collection of antimicrobial plant resins, which are incorporated in the nest architecture as propolis. Propolis influences colony and bee microbiota and honey bee immune gene expression, often having a stabilizing effect. However, previous studies have largely focused solely on either resin-rich or resin-poor colonies. Resin deposition, however, varies widely among colonies. Additionally, the multifaceted impacts of propolis need to be studied more holistically in real-world apicultural scenarios where bees are potentially exposed to more diverse environments and potential stressors. In this project, we used hive bodies altered to encourage a range of propolis deposition as part of a large-scale effort to examine the role of propolis with respect to bee health in a commercial beekeeping operation and in stationary hives. Results of colony health metrics in relation to this propolis-enhanced environment will be presented. Anticipated outcomes of this project are to make recommendations on colony management practices that result in healthier bees by promoting their own behavioral defenses and ultimately further elucidate the intricate role of propolis on individual bee and colony health.
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