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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of Phagostimulants in Artificial Diets on Honey Bee Feeding Behavior

Authors
item Hanna, Anita - FAS
item Schmidt, Justin

Submitted to: Southwestern Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2004
Publication Date: December 20, 2004
Citation: Hanna, A., Schmidt, J. Effect of phagostimulants in artificial diets on honey bee feeding behavior. Southwestern Entomologist. 2004. Vol. 29, No. 4. 253-261.

Interpretive Summary: The role of flavors from pollen, the natural food source of honey bees, in dietary choices made by honey bees was studied in the laboratory. Diets containing sucrose or pure glucose as the carbohydrate sweetener rapidly lost water, hardened, and became difficult for the bees to eat. Reduction of the glucose level to 75% or less and replacement of sucrose with fructose yielded a soft, acceptable diet texture that lost little water and could be readily consumed by bees. A sugar combination of 50% fructose and 50% glucose appeared ideal for incorporation in bee diets. Feeding choice preference tests revealed that addition of as little as 1 to 5% pollen extract increased diet consumption in all diets tested. Flavor enhancement of seven commercial honey bee substitute diets or dietary ingredients was analyzed for nutritional potential in longevity tests. The diets differed in the time lenghts of bee survival, suggesting potential differences among the nutritional values of the diets. A complicating factor was the presence of heavy parasite loads of varroa mites on the bees. Flavors derived from pollen appear to play an important role in feeding behavior of honey bees and shoe potential for incorporation into more successful artificial diets for bees.

Technical Abstract: Diets containing sucrose or pure glucose as the carbohydrate sweetner rapidly lost water, hardened, and became difficult for the bees to eat. Reduction of the glucose level to 75% or less and replacement of sucrose with fructose yielded a soft, acceptable diet texture that lost little water and could be readily consumed by bees. A sugar combination of 50% fructose and 50% glucose appeared ideal for incorporation in bee diets. Feeding choice preference tests using 1-3 day old honey bees revealed that addition of pollen extract phagostimulant increased diet consumption over non-treated controls. Addition of as little as 1 to 5% pollen extract significantly enhanced feeding behavior in all diets tested. Phagostimulant enhancement of seven commercial honey bee substitute diets for dietary ingredients was analyzed for nutritional potential in longevity tests. The diets differed in the time lengths of bee survival, suggesting potential differences among the nutritional values of the diets. A complicating factor was the presence of heavy parasite loads of varroa mites on the bees.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014