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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVE NUTRITION FOR HONEY BEE COLONIES TO STIMULATE POPULATION GROWTH, INCREASE QUEEN QUALITY, AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF VARROA MITES

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: Why Supplemental Protein Feeding Can Help Reduce Colony Losses

Authors
item Degrandi-Hoffman, Gloria
item Chen, Yanping

Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2010
Publication Date: November 20, 2010
Citation: Hoffman, G.D., Chen, Y. 2010. Why Supplemental Protein Feeding Can Help Reduce Colony Losses. American Bee Journal. 150:1157-1160.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees rely on pollen as a source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Sometimes pollen is not available, so beekeepers feed protein supplements. Whether honey bees can process protein supplements as they do pollen is important information for developing and testing the nutritional value of artificial diets. We measured the effects of diet on protein concentration, hypopharyngeal gland development and virus titers in worker honey bees fed either pollen, a protein supplement (MegaBee), or a protein-feee diet of sugar syrup. Workers consumed more pollen than protein supplement, but protein amounts and size of hypopharyngeal gland acini did not differ between the two feeding treatments. Bees fed sugar syrup alone had lower protein concentrations and smaller hypopharyngeal glands compared with the other feeding treatments especially as the bees aged. Deformed wing virus was detected in workers at the start of a trial. Virus concentrations were highest in bees fed sugar syrup and lowest in those fed pollen. Overall results suggest a connection between diet, protein levels and immune response.

Technical Abstract: Elucidating the mechanisms by which honey bees process pollen vs. protein supplements are important in the generation of artificial diets needed to sustain managed honey bees. We measured the effects of diet on protein concentration, hypopharyngeal gland development and virus titers in worker honey bees fed either pollen, a protein supplement (MegaBee), or a protein-free diet of sugar syrup. Workers consumed more pollen than protein supplement, but protein amounts and size of hypopharyngeal gland acini did not differ between the two feeding treatments. Bees fed sugar syrup alone had lower protein concentrations and smaller hypopharyngeal glands compared with the other feeding treatments especially as the bees aged. Deformed wing virus was detected in workers at the start of a trial. Virus concentrations were highest in bees fed sugar syrup and lowest in those fed pollen. Overall results suggest a connection between diet, protein levels and immune response.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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