Sticky Innovation: Integrating art and science to solve honey bee decline through propolis reintroduction

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Tziporah Serota Robin Bearss Matthew Stall Nandita Sheth


By Tziporah Serota, Biology; Robin Bearss, Biology; Matthew Stall, Medical Studies

Advisor: Nandita Sheth

Presentation ID: PM_ATRIUM14

Abstract: Across the world, honey bee populations have been rapidly declining due to the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), resulting severe ecosystem and food shortage implications. As part of the larger Biodesign Challenge, we look to integrate biological concepts, artistic design, and engineering principles to solve the "wicked problem" of CCD. We focus our research to finding solutions for four major problems facing bees: pesticides, pathogens, parasites, and poor nutrition. As a defense against disease and parasites, we aim to reintroduce propolis production, a composite of resins and other components that confers antimicrobial, antifungal, and other health benefits to the hives. We designed propolis traps incorporated into the Langstroth hive to encourage propolis production, placed inside mobile gardens whose lavender (Lavendula spp.) flowers provide pheromones to attract bees (as well as an extra food source to target the effects of pesticides and monoculture) and Autograph tree (Clusea Rosea) to provide a repository of resins they can use to make propolis. We allowed honey bees to reside in two hives (one containing a propolis trap and the other containing no trap) nearby an Autograph tree to determine (a) if the presence of a trap increased propolis production and (b) if bees used the tree as a source of resin. We expect that the trap and the tree will increase propolis production, providing a desirable mechanism for beekeepers and farmers alike to lower cases of CCD.

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PM Poster Session -- Atrium -- Sustainability & Biodiversity