PoshBee research finds variations in bees’ nutritional requirements

Bees are a highly diverse group of pollinating insects with many species, exhibiting differences in traits such as body size, social behaviour, foraging strategies or floral choices. And while it is well-known bee species vary in such traits, there is still little information on how they vary in their nutritional requirements.

Bumblebee on a flower.

To address this knowledge gap, PoshBee researchers from UMONS, INRAE & CREA, developed original laboratory experiments, evaluating the interspecific variations in bee nutritional requirements. In their paper "Variations in Nutritional Requirements Across Bee Species", written within PoshBee’s framework, they evaluated the effect of eight pollen mixes of different qualities on key life-history traits regulated by pollen consumption in four European bee species: honey bees (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (Bombus terrestris), mason bees (Osmia bicornis and Osmia cornuta).

All in all, their experiments showed that the nutritional requirements across these species vary and that what constitutes a low-quality diet for some species, isn’t necessarily that for others. These findings support the need to conserve and, when necessary, introduce plant diversity into managed ecosystems. This would grant the possibility to meet the natural nutritional preferences of different bee species. 

Read the full research paper here.