If you give a “menu” to a bee, it will instinctively choose dishes that provide the right balance of nutrients: sugary nectar plus pollen full of protein, fatty acids and micronutrients.
That’s one of the findings of groundbreaking experiments performed at Israel’s Benjamin Triwaks Bee Research Center at Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot.
The center also has discovered that, like humans, bees consuming an unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids develop cognitive deficiencies.
They cannot simply choose pollen from flowers high in omega-3 because increasing urbanization has decimated many kinds of wildflowers. The resulting nutritional imbalance is a major reason why honeybees, responsible for the pollination of more than 90 commercial food crops across the world, are dying at an alarming rate.
“Our specific research is on understanding bee diets and how they choose their diets. We know they need nectar and pollen, and that all comes from flowers,” Bee Research Center director Prof. Sharoni Shafir tells ISRAEL21c.
“Beekeepers can give them sugar water if there’s not enough nectar but lack of pollen is a more acute problem because it’s complex. There are essential amino acids they can only get from pollen, and the amount of essential fatty acids — omega-3 and omega-6 – varies from pollen to pollen. We are working in an international consortium to understand how to formulate an artificial diet that will be as good as pollen,” he says.—More…
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