With bee populations in decline, a new study offers hope for a relatively simple mechanism to promote bee health and well-being: providing bees access to sunflowers.
The study, conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, showed that two different species of bees fed a diet of sunflower pollen had dramatically lower rates of infection by specific pathogens. Bumble bees on the sunflower diet also had generally better colony health than bees fed on diets of other flower pollens.
The study showed that sunflower pollen reduced infection by a particular pathogen (Crithidia bombi) in bumble bees (Bombus impatiens). Sunflower pollen also protected European honey bees (Apis mellifera) from a different pathogen (Nosema ceranae). These pathogens have been implicated in slowing bee colony growth rates and increasing bee death.
The study also showed a deleterious effect, however, as honey bees on the sunflower diet had mortality rates roughly equivalent to honey bees not fed a pollen diet and four times higher than honey bees fed buckwheat pollen. This mortality effect was not observed in bumble bees.
Jonathan Giacomini, a Ph.D. student in applied ecology at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the research, said that bees already seem adept at collecting sunflower pollen. Annually, some two million acres in the United States and 10 million acres in Europe are devoted to sunflowers, he said, making sunflower pollen a ready and relevant bee food.
“We’ve tried other monofloral pollens, or pollens coming from one flower, but we seem to have hit the jackpot with sunflower pollen,” said co-senior author Rebecca Irwin, a professor of applied ecology at NC State. “None of the others we’ve studied have had this consistent positive effect on bumble bee health.”
Sunflower pollen is low in protein and some amino acids, so it should not be considered as a standalone meal for bee populations, Irwin said. “But sunflower could be a good addition to a diverse wildflower population for bees,” she said, especially generalists like bumble bees and honey bees.
The NC State researchers are now planning to follow up on the study to examine whether other species of bees show the positive effects of sunflower pollen and to gauge the mechanism behind the mostly positive effects of sunflower pollen.
“We don’t know if sunflower pollen is helping the host bees fight off pathogens or if sunflower pollen does something to the pathogens,” Irwin said. Future research is aimed at figuring this out.
The Latest on: Bees
via Google News
The Latest on: Bees
- The scent of spring: The first bees are bumbling among sprays of blossom like fireworks...on March 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm
Now, a fair week is, for many, here to help. A shower of sunlight (free vitamin D), breaths of the cleanest air this country has known for decades — as there are so few cars on the road — and the ...
- The 10 Prettiest Plants That’ll Bring All the Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Bees to Your Yardon March 22, 2020 at 7:26 am
The expression “busy as a bee” certainly applies when it comes to our tiny garden visitors that carry minuscule pollen grains from flower to flower. Those industrious insects—along with other ...
- Enfield High School Baseball Alumnus Signs With New Britain Beeson March 20, 2020 at 9:55 am
NEW BRITAIN, CT — Former Enfield High School baseball standout Kyle Menaker has signed to pitch with the New Britain Bees of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a 7-team wood bat summer league ...
- How ‘undertaker’ bees recognize dead comradeson March 20, 2020 at 7:45 am
Wen Ping, an ecologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, wondered whether a specific type of scent molecule might help undertaker bees find their fallen ...
- Wasps may benefit us as much as bees. Could we learn to love them?on March 18, 2020 at 1:06 pm
EVERYBODY loves bees. They are celebrated for their glorious honey, cooperative work ethic and commercially valuable pollination services. In a 2019 survey, 55 per cent of respondents chose bees as ...
- Bees are the best: USU scientist releases children's bookon March 18, 2020 at 9:03 am
LOGAN, UTAH, USA -- Utah State University scientist Joseph Wilson is on a mission. The conservation biologist wants to encourage efforts to protect bees, but realizes a lot of people know little about ...
- The Helper Bees’ Virtual Home Health Assessments Assist Caregivers, Clinicians & Insurers During COVID-19 Crisison March 17, 2020 at 5:41 pm
The Helper Bees, a provider of intelligent, technology-enabled home care services, is pleased to announce the launch of virtual home nurse assessments to assist caregivers, clinicians, and insurers in ...
- Pollinate Your Garden This Spring by Renting Solitary Beeson March 17, 2020 at 3:27 am
If you love gardening, you should love bees. After all, gardens need pollinators like bees in order to thrive. And bees, which are dying off, need pollen and nectar from plants. This spring, you can ...
- Nate & Hila Get 'Naughty for Nature' With a Music Video About Bees Mating, Naturallyon March 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm
Nate and Hila released their “Die for That P--sy (Bee Sex)” music video March 16, putting a funny spin on bee advocacy and gender roles. Watch it.
via Bing News