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Beetle helps in propolis production

Researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) collected and identified a beetle essential to the production of red propolis, a resin with antiseptic properties manufactured by bees from the sap of the bush Dalbergia ecastaphyllum and used to seal their hives. The previously unknown triggering agent for red propolis production is the beetle Agrilus propolis, an insect with an elongated black body, a few millimeters in length, described by biologists Letizia Migliore and Sonia Casari from USP’s Museum of Zoology and Gianfranco Curletti from the Civic Museum of Natural History in Carmagnola, Italy (The Science of Nature, February 28). Females of the species lay their eggs in the bark of the bush, which is commonly found in northeastern Brazil, and their larvae develop inside the stem. In response to the invasion, the plant begins to produce a blood-red sap, which leaks out of the holes the grown-up beetles create when they leave the plant. Bees then collect this sap and mix it with wax, pollen, and enzymes, creating the commercially valuable red propolis.