Many people know a lot about bees, but scientists have recently discovered that bumble bees have a unique feature compared to other species, as they choose wisely their pollen meals.
A team of researchers from Penn State observed that bumble bees know which pollen has the best quality. This ability allows them to have the healthiest diet among bees.
According to Christina Grozinger, Center for Pollinator Research Director, Penn State, a high percentage of bee species around the world have suffered a massive drop-off in their numbers over the last few years, and scientists think that a possible cause might be a poor diet.
Experts believe that by observing bumble bees, they will be able to identify the most nutritious species of plants and flowers and thus, they will double their efforts to increase the number of these flower and plants species.
This way, bees benefit from the ideal habitat that will provide them with the best pollen for their diets. According to lead researcher Anthony Vaudo, graduate student in entomology, until now, experts thought that bees’ diet relied on floral traits such as nectar concentration, morphology, scent, and color.
Pollen is the primary source of lipids and protein, so it is crucial to observe how bumble bees choose their flowers. During a study, researchers looked at some bumble bees pollinating several plants species in a particular area.
Then, they established the concentrations of lipid, protein, and carbohydrate from these plants. By doing this, they found out which plant species are the most nutritious. Scientists have also investigated the connection between the nutritional quality of the pollen and the foraging rates to understand how often would these insects pollinate a flower based on how good the pollen is.
Nevertheless, the team of researchers was unable to establish a clear link between lipid, protein, and carbohydrate concentrations and bee visitation. Scientists discovered that not only bees are capable of choosing their pollinating spots based on the quality of the pollen, but many other animal species rely on the perfect diet in order to be healthy enough.
Culver’s root, spiderwort, and American seena were the three plant species most pollinated by bumble bees, according to scientists. Hopefully, they will find out more about the diet of these top pollinators because there is a dire need of solutions to help and preserve all bee species throughout the world.