Honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollen foraging reflects benefits dependent on individual infection status

Ferguson, Jade A., Northfield, Tobin, and Lach, Lori (2018) Honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollen foraging reflects benefits dependent on individual infection status. Microbial Ecology, 78 (2). pp. 482-491.

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Parasites often modify host foraging behavior, for example, by spurring changes to nutrient intake ratios or triggering self-medication. The gut parasite, Nosema ceranae, increases energy needs of the European or Western honey bee (Apis mellifera), but little is known about how infection affects foraging behavior. We used a combination of experiments and observations of caged and free-flying individual bees and hives to determine how N. ceranae affects honey bee foraging behavior. In an experiment with caged bees, we found that infected bees with access to a high-quality pollen were more likely to survive than infected bees with access to a lower quality pollen or no pollen. Non-infected bees showed no difference in survival with pollen quality. We then tested free-flying bees in an arena of artificial flowers and found that pollen foraging bees chose pollen commensurate with their infection status; twice as many infected bees selected the higher quality pollen than the lower quality pollen, while healthy bees showed no preference between pollen types. However, healthy and infected bees visited sucrose and pollen flowers in the same proportions. Among hive-level observations, we found no significant correlations between N. ceranae infection intensity in the hive and the proportion of bees returning with pollen. Our results indicate that N. ceranae-infected bees benefit from increased pollen quality and will selectively forage for higher quality while foraging for pollen, but infection status does not lead to increased pollen foraging at either the individual or hive levels.

Item ID: 52304
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-184X
Keywords: Apis mellifera; parasites; Nosema ceranae; pollen preference; foraging behaviour; hive
Copyright Information: © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award DE130100709, JCU Honours student support
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2018 01:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310913 Invertebrate biology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410202 Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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