Honey bee foraging ecology: Season but not landscape diversity shapes the amount and diversity of collected pollen

Abstract

The availability of pollen in agricultural landscapes is essential for the successful growth and reproduction of honey bee colonies (Apis mellifera L.). The quantity and diversity of collected pollen can influence the growth and health of honey bee colonies, but little is known about the influence of landscape structure on pollen diet. In a field experiment, we rotated 16 honey bee colonies across 16 agricultural landscapes, used traps to collect samples of collected pollen and observed intra-colonial dance communication to gain information about foraging distances. DNA metabarcoding was applied to analyze mixed pollen samples. Neither the amount of collected pollen nor pollen diversity was related to landscape diversity. However, we found a strong seasonal variation in the amount and diversity of collected pollen in all sites independent of landscape diversity. The observed increase in foraging distances with decreasing landscape diversity suggests that honey bees compensated for lower landscape diversity by increasing their pollen foraging range in order to maintain pollen amount and diversity. Our results underscore the importance of a diverse pollen diet for honey bee colonies. Agri-environmental schemes aiming to support pollinators should focus on possible spatial and temporal gaps in pollen availability and diversity in agricultural landscapes.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183716

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Danner2017HoneyBF, title={Honey bee foraging ecology: Season but not landscape diversity shapes the amount and diversity of collected pollen}, author={Nadja Danner and Alexander Keller and Stephan H{\"a}rtel and Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2017} }