Propolis envelope promotes beneficial bacteria in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) mouthpart microbiome

Hollie Dalenberg, Patrick Maes, Brendon Mott, Kirk E. Anderson, Marla Spivak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Honey bees collect and apply plant resins to the interior of their nest cavity, in order to form a layer around the nest cavity called a propolis envelope. Propolis displays antimicrobial activity against honey bee pathogens, but the effect of propolis on the honey bee microbiome is unknown. Honey bees do not intentionally consume propolis, but they do manipulate propolis with their mouthparts. Because honey bee mouthparts are used for collecting and storing nectar and pollen, grooming and trophallaxis between adults, feeding larvae, and cleaning the colony, they are an important interface between the bees’ external and internal environments and serve as a transmission route for core gut bacteria and pathogens alike. We hypothesized that the antimicrobial activity of an experimentally applied propolis envelope would influence the bacterial diversity and abundance of the worker mouthpart microbiome. The results revealed that the mouthparts of worker bees in colonies with a propolis envelope exhibited a significantly lower bacterial diversity and significantly higher bacterial abundance compared to the mouthparts of bees in colonies without a propolis envelope. Based on the taxonomic results, the propolis envelope appeared to reduce pathogenic or opportunistic microbes and promote the proliferation of putatively beneficial microbes on the honey bee mouthparts, thus reinforcing the core microbiome of the mouthpart niche.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number453
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInsects
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 18 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by USDA, grant number 2018-67013-27532 and by General Mills Foundation to M.S. H.D. received funding from the University of Minnesota Diversity of Views and Experience (DOVE) Fellowship and the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Science (CFANS) Diversity Scholars-Graduate Student Fellowship (CDS-GSF). The ARS is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by USDA, grant number 2018-67013-27532 and by General Mills Foundation to M.S. H.D. received funding from the University of Minnesota Diversity of Views and Experience (DOVE) Fellowship and the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Science (CFANS) Diversity Scholars-Graduate Student Fellowship (CDS-GSF). The ARS is an equal opportunity employer and provider. Acknowledgments: We thank Gary Reuter, Yuuki Metreaud, and Hector Morales Urbina for colony setup and maintenance, and Michael Wilson, Rebecca Merica, and Michael Goblirsch for laboratory help.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial resins
  • Microbiome
  • Mouthpart bacteria
  • Mouthparts
  • Propolis
  • Social immunity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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