Fungus-Bee Interactions and the Antifungal Activity of Hive Products
Kenya Fernandes*, Jasmin Li, Dee Carter
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Fungi and bees engage in a diverse range of interactions, and these can have implications for ecosystem health and human well-being. During pollination, bees may pick up and spread fungi across environments including both beneficial fungi and plant pathogens. Additionally, some bee species have been observed to actively collect fungal spores and/or derive nutrition from fungi. In their hives, bees face the challenge of protecting against fungal invaders while maintaining fungi that benefit bee health. In this study, we collected samples of honey bee (Apis mellifera) hive products from 18 hives including honey, stored pollen, beeswax, and propolis (a mixture of wax and plant resins) and profiled their antifungal activity against human and hive fungal pathogens as well as environmental fungi. We found potent and species-specific antifungal activity against specific fungi including hive pathogens, suggesting that these functional properties serve an ecological purpose. The findings of this research offer a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between fungi and bees, and how bees use hive products to manage colony health.