A Better Understanding of Bee Nutritional Ecology Is Needed to Optimize Conservation Strategies for Wild Bees—The Application of Ecological Stoichiometry
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
Insects 2018, 9(3), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030085
Received: 23 April 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 14 July 2018 / Published: 18 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stressors on Bee Health)
The observed decline in wild bees may be connected to the decreasing diversity of flowering plants. Changes in floral composition shape nutrient availability in inhabited areas, and bee larvae need food rich in body-building nutrients to develop into adults. Adult food, mainly composed of energy-rich nectar, differs from larval food, mainly composed of pollen, and adult bees forage on different plant species for nectar and pollen. Defining bee-friendly plants based on the quantities of food produced, and on the visitation rates of adult pollinating insects leads to the planting of bee habitats with poor-quality food for larvae, which limits their growth and development, and negatively affects the population. Consequently, failing to understand the nutritional needs of wild bees may lead to unintended negative effects of conservation efforts. Ecological stoichiometry was developed to elucidate the nutritional constraints of organisms and their colonies, populations, and communities. Here, I discuss how applying ecological stoichiometry to the study of the nutritional ecology of wild bees would help fill the gaps in our understanding of bee biology. I present questions that should be answered in future studies to improve our knowledge of the nutritional ecology of wild bees, which could result in better conservation strategies.