Food manipulation in honey bees induces physiological responses at the individual and colony level.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Olav Rueppell, Associate Professor (Creator)
Laura Evins Willard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Apis mellifera experiences large population declines in the USA and honeybee health is affected by many, potentially interacting factors that need to be addressed through a variety of approaches. In this context, we evaluated the impact of nutritional manipulations on worker physiology and colony demography. Specifically, we manipulated protein availability by feeding colonies on royal jelly, low-quality pollen, or regular pollen stores. After acclimation to these treatments, experimental cohorts of workers were introduced and later assessed with regards to life expectancy, protein content, and intestinal stem cell proliferation. We also monitored their hives for the amount of workers, brood, and pollen trapped in front of the hive entrances. Workers that fed on royal jelly showed a reduced rate of intestinal stem cell proliferation at nurse bee age. Total soluble protein content of individuals and adult worker lifespan were not systematically affected. However, we cannot exclude an auxiliary role of poor nutrition to declining bee health by weakening the intestinal epithelium. In contrast to the weak experimental effects on individual variables, the brood production differed drastically among the experimental hives. Although not yet replicated, this observation might indicate that hive demographic plasticity rather than individual plasticity is important for acclimation to different food regimes.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
intestinal stem cells, pollen, nutrition, demographic plasticity, mortality, apis mellifera, honey bees, biology

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