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Article

The Importance of Time and Place: Nutrient Composition and Utilization of Seasonal Pollens by European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.)

1
Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, USDA Agricultural Research Service, 2000 East Allen Road, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
2
Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, 2310 Pammel Drive, 339 Science Hall II, Ames, IA 50011, USA
3
Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Physics, Howey Physics Building, 837 State Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
4
Department of Entomology, University of Arizona, Forbes 410, P.O. Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Cristina Botias
Insects 2021, 12(3), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030235
Received: 23 December 2020 / Revised: 22 February 2021 / Accepted: 26 February 2021 / Published: 10 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honey Bee Nutrition)
Honey bees rely on pollen and nectar to provide nutrients to support their yearly colony cycle. Specifics of the cycle differ among geographic regions as do the species of flowering plants and the nutrients they provide. We examined responses of honey bees from two different queen lines fed pollens from locations that differed in floral species composition and yearly colony cycles. We detected differences between the queen lines in the amount of pollen they consumed and the size of their hypopharyngeal glands (HPG). There were also seasonal differences between the nutrient composition of pollens. Spring pollens collected from colonies in both locations had higher amino and fatty acid concentrations than fall pollens. There also were seasonal differences in responses to the pollens consumed by bees from both queen lines. Bees consumed more spring than fall pollen, but digested less of it so that bees consumed more protein from fall pollens. Though protein consumption was higher with fall pollen, HPG were larger in spring bees.
Honey bee colonies have a yearly cycle that is supported nutritionally by the seasonal progression of flowering plants. In the spring, colonies grow by rearing brood, but in the fall, brood rearing declines in preparation for overwintering. Depending on where colonies are located, the yearly cycle can differ especially in overwintering activities. In temperate climates of Europe and North America, colonies reduce or end brood rearing in the fall while in warmer climates bees can rear brood and forage throughout the year. To test the hypothesis that nutrients available in seasonal pollens and honey bee responses to them can differ we analyzed pollen in the spring and fall collected by colonies in environments where brood rearing either stops in the fall (Iowa) or continues through the winter (Arizona). We fed both types of pollen to worker offspring of queens that emerged and open mated in each type of environment. We measured physiological responses to test if they differed depending on the location and season when the pollen was collected and the queen line of the workers that consumed it. Specifically, we measured pollen and protein consumption, gene expression levels (hex 70, hex 110, and vg) and hypopharyngeal gland (HPG) development. We found differences in macronutrient content and amino and fatty acids between spring and fall pollens from the same location and differences in nutrient content between locations during the same season. We also detected queen type and seasonal effects in HPG size and differences in gene expression between bees consuming spring vs. fall pollen with larger HPG and higher gene expression levels in those consuming spring pollen. The effects might have emerged from the seasonal differences in nutritional content of the pollens and genetic factors associated with the queen lines we used. View Full-Text
Keywords: Apis mellifera nutrition; nutrients in pollen; fat body; hypopharyngeal glands; hex 70; hex 110; vg expression Apis mellifera nutrition; nutrients in pollen; fat body; hypopharyngeal glands; hex 70; hex 110; vg expression
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MDPI and ACS Style

DeGrandi-Hoffman, G.; Corby-Harris, V.; Carroll, M.; Toth, A.L.; Gage, S.; Watkins deJong, E.; Graham, H.; Chambers, M.; Meador, C.; Obernesser, B. The Importance of Time and Place: Nutrient Composition and Utilization of Seasonal Pollens by European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.). Insects 2021, 12, 235. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030235

AMA Style

DeGrandi-Hoffman G, Corby-Harris V, Carroll M, Toth AL, Gage S, Watkins deJong E, Graham H, Chambers M, Meador C, Obernesser B. The Importance of Time and Place: Nutrient Composition and Utilization of Seasonal Pollens by European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.). Insects. 2021; 12(3):235. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030235

Chicago/Turabian Style

DeGrandi-Hoffman, Gloria, Vanessa Corby-Harris, Mark Carroll, Amy L. Toth, Stephanie Gage, Emily Watkins deJong, Henry Graham, Mona Chambers, Charlotte Meador, and Bethany Obernesser. 2021. "The Importance of Time and Place: Nutrient Composition and Utilization of Seasonal Pollens by European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.)" Insects 12, no. 3: 235. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030235

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