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Honey bee colonies have a yearly cycle that is supported nutritionally by the seasonal progression of flowering plants. In the spring, colonies grow by rearing brood, but in the fall, brood rearing declines in preparation for overwintering. Depending on where colonies are located, the yearly cycle can differ especially in overwintering activities. In temperate climates of Europe and North America, colonies reduce or end brood rearing in the fall while in warmer climates bees can rear brood and forage throughout the year. To test the hypothesis that nutrients available in seasonal pollens and honey bee responses to them can differ we analyzed pollen in the spring and fall collected by colonies in environments where brood rearing either stops in the fall (Iowa) or continues through the winter (Arizona). We fed both types of pollen to worker offspring of queens that emerged and open mated in each type of environment. We measured physiological responses to test if they differed depending on the location and season when the pollen was collected and the queen line of the workers that consumed it. Specifically, we measured pollen and protein consumption, gene expression levels (hex 70, hex 110, and vg) and hypopharyngeal gland (HPG) development. We found differences in macronutrient content and amino and fatty acids between spring and fall pollens from the same location and differences in nutrient content between locations during the same season. We also detected queen type and seasonal effects in HPG size and differences in gene expression between bees consuming spring vs. fall pollen with larger HPG and higher gene expression levels in those consuming spring pollen. The effects might have emerged from the seasonal differences in nutritional content of the pollens and genetic factors associated with the queen lines we used.


This article is published as DeGrandi-Hoffman, Gloria, Vanessa Corby-Harris, Mark Carroll, Amy L. Toth, Stephanie Gage, Emily Watkins deJong, Henry Graham, Mona Chambers, Charlotte Meador, and Bethany Obernesser. "The Importance of Time and Place: Nutrient Composition and Utilization of Seasonal Pollens by European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.)." Insects 12, no. 3 (2021): 235. doi:10.3390/insects12030235.


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