3 years ago

Digestibility and nutritional value of fresh and stored pollen for honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata)

Digestibility and nutritional value of fresh and stored pollen for honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata)
Pollen, the main protein source for honey bees, is mixed with regurgitated nectar or honey during collection and then stored as ‘bee bread’ before its consumption, mainly by young nurse workers. It has been suggested that storage of pollen improves its nutritional value and digestibility, but there is little evidence for such changes. We fed two fresh pollen types of different protein content (aloe and sunflower), and two stored pollen types (sunflower and a mixed pollen), to young caged worker bees. We measured daily consumption of pollen and sucrose solution, and survival after 14 days. At day 14 we recorded ovarian activation and extraction efficiency, by counting empty pollen grains in the rectal contents. Extraction efficiency is a measure of pollen digestibility. Contrary to our predictions, bees did not consume more fresh sunflower pollen than fresh aloe pollen to compensate for the lower protein content of sunflower pollen. In addition, they did not consume less sucrose solution when fed stored pollen diets that are already enriched in sugar. Consumption of stored sunflower pollen resulted in a low protein to carbohydrate (P:C) intake. Survival and ovarian activation were higher on diets giving higher P:C intakes. Extraction efficiency was high (up to 99%) for all pollen diets, and comparison of fresh and stored sunflower pollen showed that storage did not make it easier to digest. Changes to pollen during storage do not confer obvious benefits to honey bees.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0022191017303001

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