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Staying Healthy: Honey Bee Hygienic Behaviour and Propolis Collection

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Prof Marla Spivak will give an overview of her research into how honeybees run their healthcare system.

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Honeybees and other social insects live in densely populated societies but have evolved a remarkable health-care system, which we call "Social Immunity." Two important forms of social immunity in honey bees colonies are the formation of a propolis envelope and hygienic behaviour. The propolis envelope is composed of antimicrobial resins that bees collect from plants and deposit inside the nest cavity, that helps their immune system, microbiome and general health. Hygienic behaviour is when adult bees are able to detect and remove sick brood from the nest, which limits transmission of diseases and mites throughout the colony. I will provide an overview of the most important findings of our past and research on these topics.

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Her research efforts focus on protecting and enhancing the health of honeybees, and on propagating floral rich landscapes to support all pollinators.

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