According tomedia reports, due to habitat loss and other factors, the number and variety of flowering plants in the natural environment is decreasing, so beekeepers are increasingly using artificial feed to increase their insect-breeding food. Now new research has found that microalgae may be a particularly good “bee food.”
Malnutrition is thought to be a factor in bee population failure because it amplifies the effects of existing pressures such as pathogens, parasites and pesticides. As a result, many bee colonies began to ingest supplementary feed in order to replace the naturally acquired pollen lacking in their diet. These supplements are usually made from raw materials such as wheat, soy, lentils, yeast and milk protein. However, according to a study by scientists at the U.S. Bureau of Agricultural Research, these feeds may lack the necessary nutrients and antioxidants. With this in mind, the researchers turned to spirulina, a microcyanobacteria.
Scientists have found that microalgae are rich in amino acids necessary for bee immune function, protein synthesis and colony growth, and that it also contains prebiotics necessary to grow good gut bacteria. What’s more, algae can continue to grow in shallow ponds, requiring only nutrients, water and sunlight.
Scientists now plan to conduct field tests to see if bees in nearby swarms are attracted to feed made from spirulina. In addition, they are developing new microalgae strains specifically designed for bee feed.
The study was published in Adipologie.