Home » Agricultural Pollen Reduction & Bee Decline: Are Humans to Blame for Bee Nutritional Problems?

Agricultural Pollen Reduction & Bee Decline: Are Humans to Blame for Bee Nutritional Problems?

by Stargirl

Throughout their history, honeybees have evolved and adapted for life and existence exclusively on natural food obtained from flowering plants.

Diseases and parasites didn’t affect the species, and it thrived.

This continued until 8 thousand years ago, when agriculture appeared, considered one of the most important discoveries in the history of man, which changed the species’ way of eating and living.

Ecosystems are altered by agriculture, and each system maintains its resilience at a different rate. Most farming takes place on the most fertile lands, where the bees obtained the highest quality nectar and pollen. 

Honey bees have evolved, perfected, and thrived within their ecosystem. However, agriculture, in its development and refinement, reduces the variety of natural vegetation and adversely affects their life and development.

As agricultural land has grown, bees have been forced into infertile, pollen-poorer lands.

In fertile lands with roads and fields, bees have been able to live in harmony to some extent because of fragmented agriculture.

Particularly in industrialized countries, bees have been completely displaced by those fertile lands and roads.

Bees stock up on abundant nectar and pollen in single-species agricultural crops, but the pilot and young bees remain malnourished. Why?

Nutritional Malnutrition In Bees

Nutritional malnutrition occurs when the body lacks or is unable to access certain nutrients.

Their unbalanced consumption can also contribute to this. Bees are affected by different types of pollen depending on the soil, climate, and a variety of other factors. 

In her study of the different influences of pollen on bee nutrition, Anna Maurizio divided pollen into three large groups: highly active pollen, medium active pollen, and inactive pollen, based on the differing amounts of pollen bee colonies require for annual nutrition – 20 to 30 kilograms.

Agricultural crops grown on large areas are very often honey-bearing and satisfactorily secrete nectar and pollen, but it is monospecific, and for the normal development of the pilot and young bees, the pollen food must necessarily contain the 9 essential amino acids, which are not synthesized in the body and must be imported from the outside with the food. 

Other unstudied ingredients may also be present. When either of them is absent, young bees are less likely to gain weight and contain less nitrogenous substances. 

The same 9 amino acids are also found to be essential in the development of three other insect species, so the honey bee is no exception. 

Despite the fact that there are no pollen that contain the 9 essential amino acids, Taranov proves that there are at least two kinds of active pollen, and even more kinds are required for inactive and moderately active pollen.

So far, we have learned that protein is the only source of malnutrition in the bee family.

Humans and protein nutrition are responsible for forcing bees out of the fertile lands where they have lived for millions of years, adapted to exist on certain food from natural vegetation in poorer areas.

In poorer areas, nectar and pollen are less abundant, which results in reduced immunity. As a result, bees are unable to resist diseases and parasites.

If nectar can be offset by large-scale sugar production, then pollen remains a problem. In other words, man brings unsolvable problems to the bees and they boomerang them back to him through parasites.

Man And Bees Share The Same Fate 

The bees today are malnourished, but they do not starve. If there is an abundance of food at the hive, they leave or die inside the hive. Bees die naturally from carbohydrate starvation or protein exhaustion. 

Unlike humans, bees cannot starve for long periods of time because they lack reserve carbohydrates. When a honey stomach is empty, bees can only live for 10-20 minutes. 

During starvation, glucose levels in the bee’s blood drop to zero, and death results from exhaustion of the body and poisoning caused by products of the breakdown of proteins. 

The cause of malnutrition in bees cannot be carbohydrate. They know how to save carbohydrate food, but not during malnutrition. 

Proteins in food are used to replace damaged cells during growth and to build new ones.

As part of some glands’ secretions, they form the basis of muscle, nervous, and other tissues.

Compared to bees, larvae require more protein for growth and nutrition. When proteins are in short supply, i.e. there is a lack of pollen, protein starvation occurs, which leads to the cessation of feeding of the pilot, and then to the premature death of the bees from exhaustion. 

Protein hunger can arise from a deficiency of individual components of the diet, and exhaustion is a consequence of protein hunger that has taken precedence over a normal lifestyle. 

The importance of pollen cannot be overstated.

How Agriculture And Bees Can Coexist?

The maintenance of bee colonies in conditions of intensive agriculture requires a constant monitoring of the quality and quantity of food reserves.

Their food comes from nature as nectar and pollen, which they collect, process, store and use separately.

Despite the large industrial production of crystalline sugar, a bee colony cannot be adequately nourished with pollen through industrial carbohydrate production.

Thus, the nutritional status of a colony is primarily determined by the quality of the food and how it is prepared and fed.

A honeybee’s life activities are determined by its unique food and nutrition, the rest is based on common biology.

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