Study shows bees adjust diet according to season

Researchers at Tufts University have discovered that honey bees alter their diet of nutrients according to the season, particularly as winter approaches. A spike in calcium consumption in the fall, and high intake of potassium, help prepare the bees for colder months when they likely need those minerals to generate warmth through rapid muscle contractions. A careful inventory of the bees’ nutrient intake revealed shifting sources (from flowers to mineral rich ‘dirty water’) and how limitations in nutrient availability from these sources can have implications for the health of both managed and wild colonies.

The study, which is available in the May print edition of the Journal of Insect Physiology, examined mineral content gathered by and contained in adult bees and in their sources of food, exploring how they maintain the right nutritional balance of micronutrients. For most of the minerals tracked, it was found that the bees sought alternate sources to complement variation in the floral supply. Continue reading

European study shows various results with neonic-honey bee interactions

A study in Europe that tested bee health in neonicotinoid treated fields had different results in two countries, supporting previous statements that bee declines are the result of multiple factors.

The study, which was the largest field study ever conducted on bees and neonics, was featured in Science this past week. Scientists monitored bees in 33 locations in the United Kingdom, Germany and Hungary. Bees in each location were in canola fields, some of which had been treated with neonics and fungicides and others that were treated only with fungicides. Continue reading

Hot Cities Spell Bad News for Bees

by Matt Shipman, North Carolina State University

A new study from North Carolina State University finds that common wild bee species decline as urban temperatures increase.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” says Steve Frank, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. Continue reading