Honey bees are prime model system to study self-medication because their pathogens are well known, as are antimicrobial substances they forage to prevent and fight infections at the colony level. Many bee products (honey, propolis or royal jelly) are renowned as antimicrobial or protective agents. Self-medication by foraging for health can be best studied with honey, the major carbohydrate nutrient of honey bees. Many different factors influence the characteristics of honey, but clearly the floral origin and antibiotic secondary plant metabolites are in the centre of interest when it comes to assessing honey composition in relation to bee health.
Here we want to study the impact of self-medication in a comprehensive top down approach from the foraged nectar at the colony level down to the immune response of the individual bee larvae. We will focus on European Foulbrood, a bacterial brood disease of honey bees as model pathogens to test how honey of different floral origin can drive mechanisms of self-medication in the honey bee. Finally, results will give insights on the biochemical, genetic, physiological and behavioural interaction on the observed mechanism of self-medication and its adaptive potential in the arms race between honeybee health and bacterial infectivity.