Access to food eases stress on traveling honey bees

by Mick Kulikowski

In the first large-scale and comprehensive study on the impacts of transporting honey bees to pollinate various crops, research from North Carolina State University shows that travel can adversely affect bee health and lifespan. Some of these negative impacts may be reduced by moving bee colonies into patches with readily available food or by providing supplemental nutrition when there are few flowers for honey bees to visit, the researchers say.

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are among the country’s most important agricultural pollinators. They are frequently trucked around the United States – in short and long distances – to pollinate crops like apples, almonds and berries. But the impact of that travel remains unclear and ripe for study, says Hongmei Li-Byarlay, a National Research Council senior research associate in NC State’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and co-first author of a paper describing the research, which aimed to be the first to directly measure stress in these types of colonies. Continue reading