Lower Biodiversity Means Fewer Bees - Restricted Diet Weakens Their Immune System

honey bee photo

photo: John via flickr.

Another twist in the colony collapse disorder saga, courtesy the BBC. It's been known for a couple years that bee and wildflower declines tracked one another, but now researchers from France's National Institute for Agricultural Research have hit upon one part of why that's the case. The results of their research have been published in the journal Biology Letters, and it all comes down to the bees' diet:Apparently bees' immune systems are healthier when they are fed pollen from a wider variety of plants than when they eat only one thing.

Researcher Cedric Alaux told the BBC,

We found that bees fed with a mix of five different pollens had higher levels of glucose oxidase compared to bees fed with pollen from one single type of flower, even if that single flower had a higher protein content.

So that would mean they have better antiseptic protection compared to other bees, and be more resistant to pathogen invasion.

The researchers went on to extrapolate that this may be what's happening with colony collapse in the US: With commercial hives transported around to pollinate specific crops, the bees may have a restricted diet and depressed immune system as well.

More: BBC News
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