Off season nutrition status and colony maintenance of honey bee.
1Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
Honey bee is one of the most amazing creature in the insect world. The first bee arrived from England in 1822 in a ship called “Isabella. Honey bee are responsible for pollinating the variety of fruits, legumes, vegetable and nuts such as almond, without bees the quality and quantity of many crops would be reduced. Honey bees are the primary pollinator because they are available throughout the growing season. It is estimated that one third of food are pollinated by bees that we eat.
Nutrition affects every part of organism’s life from behavior to evolution. For social insect especially bees the consumption and collection of nutrition can be complex due to change in environment and their community. For the time being bees protect and store some nutrition their body, but mostly store their nutrition in the hive. Other social insects such as ants and termite species use fungi to convert plant matter into a primary food source. Honey bee need proper and mixed amount of amino acid to be healthy. Pollen is the main source of amino acid in honey bee diet.
Human needs a variety of food to stay healthy, same as honey bee colony need a variety of pollen to stay healthy. Variety is very important because not all the amino acids are found in single type of pollen. Some have greater variety than other so, eating a variety of pollen is important for good colony nutrition. Honey bee also serval other nutrition vitamin, lipids, protein, carbohydrate and fats for their growth and development. Flowers are the major source of energy in bee’s life from where they collect pollen but during off-season (late winter and early spring) the collection of fresh nectar seems to impossible because of unavailability of flowers and the presence of stored honey and fresh nectar is vital for colony’s survival. In this case feeding bees with pollen substitute and sugar syrup increase number of bees, brood area and colony weight.
Sugar is the main product to feed honey bee during off season but the prices of sugar increasing every year in the market making beekeeping a costly enterprise. The key indicator for proper health and development are vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, folic acid and minerals such as zinc manganese and iron in pollen. Fruit, cereals and vegetables rich in minerals, protein, vitamin, and carbohydrates are easily available during off-season and are cheaper in price that can be taken as substitute to feed bees during off season. Banana is the cheapest and most nutrition than any other fruits. Similarly rice bran, maize powder, and pumpkin are also cheaper and rich in nutrition, and easily available during off season. Feeding bee with pumpkin and banana syrup provides not only energy but also minerals, vitamin and protein. Banana contain tissue building elements and very high caloric value.
Honey bee have grown many tactics to survive with pathogen and parasites but if they are nutritionally stressed they will face a major battle. The conditions under which feeding supplements benefits the colony vary from location to location, so paying attention to honeybee nutrition is one of the most important aspects for successful beekeeping.