Honey bees may soon add algae to their diets

The growing habitat loss of honey bees in recent years has led to a decrease in the variety of flowering plants, which provide bees with essential nutrients in their diets. As a result, beekeepers are increasingly starting to augment their insects’ diets with artificial feeds made of ingredients like wheat, soy, and lentils. These nutrients, however, aren’t always able to deliver the nutrients and antioxidants bees need.

With that in mind, scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service have been looking for potential substitutes that would be a fit for the job, leading the wondrous organism of algae to be shortlisted.

Called spirulina, the blue-green microscopic algae may soon become an essential dietary addition to honey bees’ meals. The microalgae are high in the amino acids that are required for immune function, protein synthesis, and colony growth in honeybees, plus it contains the prebiotics necessary for the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

What’s more, the algae can be sustainably grown in shallow ponds, requiring little more than nutrient salts, water, and sunlight.

The scientists now plan on conducting field tests, to see if honeybees from nearby colonies will be attracted to a feed product made of spirulina. They are also working on developing new microalgae strains, aimed specifically at use in bee feed.

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Honey bees may soon add algae to their diets

The growing habitat loss of honey bees in recent years has led to a decrease in the variety of flowering plants, which provide bees with essential nutrients in their diets. As a result, beekeepers are increasingly starting to augment their insects’ diets with artificial feeds made of ingredients like wheat, soy, and lentils. These nutrients, however, aren’t always able to deliver the nutrients and antioxidants bees need.

With that in mind, scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service have been looking for potential substitutes that would be a fit for the job, leading the wondrous organism of algae to be shortlisted.

Called spirulina, the blue-green microscopic algae may soon become an essential dietary addition to honey bees’ meals. The microalgae are high in the amino acids that are required for immune function, protein synthesis, and colony growth in honeybees, plus it contains the prebiotics necessary for the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

What’s more, the algae can be sustainably grown in shallow ponds, requiring little more than nutrient salts, water, and sunlight.

The scientists now plan on conducting field tests, to see if honeybees from nearby colonies will be attracted to a feed product made of spirulina. They are also working on developing new microalgae strains, aimed specifically at use in bee feed.

Solution News Source

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