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Front. Sustain. Food Syst.
Sec. Agroecology and Ecosystem Services
Volume 8 - 2024 | doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2024.1411410

Dietary Foundations for Pollinators: Nutritional Profiling of Plants for Bee Health Provisionally Accepted

  • 1York University, Canada

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Human activities, including urban expansion, intensive farming practices, and the application of pesticides have significantly reshaped bee habitats. Understanding the nutritional content of pollen, the primary source of bees' proteins and lipids, is important for maintaining their diet and health. In this study, we set out to determine the nutritional composition of pollen from various plant families and genera. Our objectives were to analyze the levels of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs), amino acids (AAs), protein-to-lipid (P:L) ratios, and omega-6:3 ratios of 57 pollen species native to North America. These data suggest a potential trade-off between NEFA and AA content within pollen, suggesting that a diverse floral diet may benefit bees more than a single pollen source. The AA profiles showed considerable diversity, with all pollen species providing the essential amino acids (EAAs) required for bee health, except for methionine which was lacking in Rhus glabra pollen. The plant family Asteraceae was especially abundant in EAAs. P:L ratios varied widely further emphasizing bees' need for access to a diverse array of nutritional profiles. There were no overall nutritional differences between pollen from native and introduced plant species. This study highlights the significance of a diverse array of floral resources to meet the comprehensive nutritional needs of bees, contributing to the support of pollinator populations and the broader ecological system.

Keywords: nutritional ecology, pollen nutrition, Amino Acids, Fatty Acids, pollinator diet, Bee health

Received: 02 Apr 2024; Accepted: 07 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Stephen, Chau and Rehan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sandra M. Rehan, York University, Toronto, M3J 1P3, Ontario, Canada