by Jenna Mallon (’18)
A lot goes on inside the hives of Apis mellifera, commonly known as the western honeybee, to keep the colony of bees alive and healthy. Forager bees work outside the hive to collect water, pollen, nectar, and resin: all of which are necessary for the survival of the bees. Collecting pollen and understanding the behavior and action of forager bees has been an area of scientific interest in order to help create a better understanding of honeybees.
A group of researchers from Brazil analyzed the foraging activity of six colonies of Apis mellifera over a sixteen-day period. Before the start of the sixteen-day period, the researchers mapped out the area of the hives in order to help them determine the amount of pollen collected. The team controlled the baseline amount of pollen in each hive: three contained 973 cm2 (a high amount) and the other three contained 52 cm2 (a low amount) in order to determine how this affected foraging activity. After collecting data on the first, eighth, and sixteenth days, the researchers found a direct correlation between initial pollen storage and foraging activity. The hives that started with a low amount of pollen showed increased foraging activity, but the activity was still 15% less than the foraging activity of hives with a high pollen level. In the end, all of the colonies eventually regulated their pollen levels to those necessary to maintain survival, the initial levels existing before the researchers intervened. This is evidence that foraging activity is also dependent on colony needs. This research hopes to shed more light into the complex lives of honeybees and how they work together to maintain their hives.
- Gomes de Lima et al., Regulation of pollen foraging activity in Apis mellifera Africanized honeybees colonies. Agricultural Sciences, 7, 335-340 (2016), doi: 10.4236/as.2016.76034.
- Image retrieved from: http://https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/Anthidium_February_2008-1.jpg