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Conversion of High and Low Pollen Protein Diets Into Protein in Worker Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

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Adequate protein levels are necessary to maintain strong honey bee [Apis mellifera (L.)] colonies. The aim of this study was to quantify how pollens with different crude protein contents influence protein stores within individual honey bees. Caged bees were fed one of three diets, consisting of high‐protein-content pollen, low‐protein-content pollen, or protein-free diet as control; measurements were made based on protein content in hemolymph and fat body, fat body weight, and body weight. Vitellogenin in hemolymph was also measured. Bees fed with high crude protein diet had significantly higher levels of protein in hemolymph and fat bodies. Caged bees did not increase pollen consumption to compensate for the lower protein in the diet, and ingesting ≈4 mg of protein per bee could achieve levels of 20 μg/μl protein in hemolymph. Worker bees fed with low crude protein diet took more time in reaching similar protein content of the bees that were fed with high crude protein diet. The data showed that fat bodies and body weight were not efficient methods of measuring the protein status of bees. The determination of total protein or vitellogenin concentration in the hemolymph from 13-d-old bees and protein concentration of fat bodies from 9-d-old bees could be good indicators of nutritional status of honey bees.

Keywords: fat body; honey bees; nutritional status; pollen diets; protein

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC12466

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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