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Pollen Collected By U.S. Honey Bees in Urban Settings Show Dramatic Seasonal Variation

The diversity and availability of pollen foraged by honey bees across urban and suburban areas in the United States varies drastically with the seasons, according to a study published June 12, 2019, in PLOS ONE by Juliana Rangel from Texas A&M University and colleagues.

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies require a diversity of protein-rich pollen in order to rear healthy brood and ensure colony survival. During certain seasons, insufficient or poor-quality pollen can limit brood nutrition. In this study, the authors investigated the variation in pollen collected by honey bees across developed landscapes in California, Michigan, Florida, and Texas over the seasons of the year.

The authors tracked 394 sites with at least two hives each in urban and suburban locations. They placed a pollen trap at each hive entrance, which passively collected pollen from foraging bees and sampled it. The researchers used a light microscope to identify pollen grains to the family, genus, and species level where possible.

NIFA supported this project with funding from the Hatch Multistate and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

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