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Seasonality of honey bee (Apis mellifera) micronutrient supplementation and environmental limitation
- Bonoan, Rachael E., O'Connor, Luke D., Starks, Philip T.
- Journal of insect physiology 2018 v.107 pp. 23-28
- Apis mellifera, calcium, chemical analysis, diet, insect physiology, overwintering, potassium, seasonal variation, worker honey bees
- Honey bees (Apis mellifera) obtain micronutrients from floral resources and “dirty”, or turbid, water. Past research suggests that honey bees drink dirty water to supplement the micronutrients in their floral diet, however, there is no research that directly investigates how floral micronutrient content varies with water preferences, or how micronutrients in honey bees themselves vary seasonally. In this study, we used chemical analyses (ICP-OES) to investigate seasonal variation of micronutrients in honey bee workers and floral resources in the field. We found that honey bees likely use mineralized water to supplement their floral diet and may be limited by availability of calcium and potassium. Our results also suggest that honey bees may seasonally seek specific micronutrients, perhaps in preparation for overwintering.