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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #356676

Research Project: Prevention of Arthropod Bites

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Neutral sterols in honey bee (Apis mellifera) feces

item Feldlaufer, Mark
item Harrison, Dawn

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/2019
Publication Date: 5/13/2020
Citation: Feldlaufer, M.F., Harrison, D.J. 2020. Neutral sterols in honey bee (Apis mellifera) feces. Journal of Apicultural Research.

Interpretive Summary: A particular chemical compound, termed a sterol, appears to be important in honey bee nutrition and is selectively transferred from worker bees to developing honey bee brood, regardless of the amount of this compound in the food (pollen) or in the worker bees. The mechanism of this selective transfer, however, is unknown. In an effort to explain this selective transfer, we examined the feces of honey bees for this compound and found approximately the same amounts of this chemical in the feces as found in the honey bees. This information will be used by researchers interested in honey bee nutrition, particularly as it relates to Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees.

Technical Abstract: Nutrition is important in the malady that is named Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees and the sterol 24-methylenecholesterol has been previously shown to be selectively transferred from worker honey bees to developing brood in both laboratory and field studies. The mechanism of this selective transfer is unknown, as is the importance of 24-methylenecholesterol to honey bee development and nutrition. The objective of this study was to determine if any 28- and 29-carbon sterols other than 24-methylenecholesterol were selectively excreted in the feces by the honey bee, concentrating the amount of 24-methylenecholesterol in worker bee tissue, and thereby partially explaining the mechanism of selective sterol transfer in honey bees. After four days of confinement special cages, the neutral sterols were identified and the percentages of these sterols were determined from the pollen the honey bees presumably consumed, from the tissues of the confined worker bees, and from their feces. There was no apparent excessive excretion of other plant sterols such as campesterol, sitosterol and isofucosterol and stigmasterol in honey bee feces.