Marla Spivak

Professor, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Saint Paul, MN, United States

About Marla


Bees are in serious decline. Bees are the world’s most important insect pollinator of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. A shortage of bees could lead to a shortage of nutritious food. The research and extension efforts in Dr. Marla Spivak’s lab focus on how bees keep themselves healthy through their social health care system. She bred a line of bees for hygienic behavior, a natural trait that helps bees fight off diseases and parasites. She then initiated a nationwide program to assist beekeepers select for and propagate this important trait in their own stocks of bees. With students and collaborators, she is now focusing on propolis - plant-derived resins with remarkable antimicrobial properties that are collected by honey bees. The bees' placement of propolis in the nest provides health benefits to the immune system of the colony, and may help ward off diseases. With other students, she studies how the lack of flowers and pesticide use in our agricultural landscapes affect honey bee nutrition, immunity and survival, and wild bee diversity and abundance. Dr. Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota.


English, Spanish

TED Conference

TEDGlobal 2013

Areas of Expertise