Honeybees use propolis collected from plants for coating the inner walls of their nest. This substance is also used as a natural antibiotic against microbial pathogens, similarly to many other animals exploiting natural products for self-medication. We carried out chemical analyses and laboratory bioassays to test if honeybees use propolis for social medication against their major ectoparasite: Varroa destructor. We found that propolis is applied to brood cells where it can affect the reproducing parasites, with a positive effect on honeybees and a potential impact on Varroa population. We conclude that propolis can be regarded as a natural pesticide used by the honeybee to limit a dangerous parasite. These findings significantly enlarge our understanding of behavioural immunity in animals and may have important implications for the management of the most important threat to honeybees worldwide.

Honeybees use propolis as a natural pesticide against their major ectoparasite

Annoscia D.;Frizzera D.;Zanni V.;Nazzi F.
2021

Abstract

Honeybees use propolis collected from plants for coating the inner walls of their nest. This substance is also used as a natural antibiotic against microbial pathogens, similarly to many other animals exploiting natural products for self-medication. We carried out chemical analyses and laboratory bioassays to test if honeybees use propolis for social medication against their major ectoparasite: Varroa destructor. We found that propolis is applied to brood cells where it can affect the reproducing parasites, with a positive effect on honeybees and a potential impact on Varroa population. We conclude that propolis can be regarded as a natural pesticide used by the honeybee to limit a dangerous parasite. These findings significantly enlarge our understanding of behavioural immunity in animals and may have important implications for the management of the most important threat to honeybees worldwide.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/1218276
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