Honeybee microbiome is stabilized in the presence of propolis

Perot Saelao, Renata S. Borba, Vincent Ricigliano, Marla Spivak, Michael Simone-Finstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Honeybees have developed many unique mechanisms to help ensure the proper maintenance of homeostasis within the hive. One method includes the collection of chemically complex plant resins combined with wax to form propolis, which is deposited throughout the hive. Propolis is believed to play a significant role in reducing disease load in the colony due to its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. However, little is known about how propolis may interact with bee-associated microbial symbionts, and if propolis alters microbial community structure. In this study, we found that propolis appears to maintain a stable microbial community composition and reduce the overall taxonomic diversity of the honeybee microbiome. Several key members of the gut microbiota were significantly altered in the absence of propolis, suggesting that it may play an important role in maintaining favourable abundance and composition of gut symbionts. Overall, these findings suggest that propolis may help to maintain honeybee colony microbial health by limiting changes to the overall microbial community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20200003
JournalBiology letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • 16S rRNA
  • Apis mellifera
  • Microbiota
  • Plant resin
  • Social immunity


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