Understanding social resilience in honeybee colonies

Ülgezen, Z.N.; Dooremalen, J.A. van; Langevelde, F. van


Honeybee colonies experience high losses, induced by several stressors that can result in the collapse of colonies. Experiments show what effects stressors, such as parasites, pathogens and pesticides, can have on individual hon- eybees as well as colonies. Although individuals may die, colonies do not always collapse from such disturbances. As a superorganism, the colony can maintain or return back to homeostasis through colony mechanisms. This capacity is defined as social resilience. When the colony faces a high stress load, this may lead to breakdown in mechanisms, loss in resilience and eventually colony collapse. Before social resilience can be measured in honeybees, we need to examine the mechanisms in colonies that allow recovery and maintenance after stres- sor exposure. Here, we discuss some of these mechanisms and how they affect the social resilience of honeybee colonies. Understanding social resilience in honeybees is essential to managing colony health and loss prevention.