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Urban Bees Reject Junk Food

US researchers analyze which sugar sources are chosen by city honey bees

Jul 28, 2016
Bees prefer nectar from flowers compared to sugar sources meant for humans.

Bees prefer nectar from flowers compared to sugar sources meant for humans.

Bees in larger cities tend to reject the abundant sugar found in leftover soft drinks or comparable edibles that they can easily find. Instead, they would rather fly long distances to find urban flowerbeds. These are the results from a study at North Carolina State University, presented in the “Journal of Urban Ecology” in May.

During the study, researchers investigated the stable carbon isotopes of worker bees from 39 honey bee colonies in mid-sized cities in North Carolina. Their chemical carbon-signature led them to the conclusion that processed sugar does not play a large role in the diet of urban honey bees. It is not clear whether the results are also valid for large cities such as New York, where there may be fewer flowers to provide bees with nectar.

This study by US researchers again highlights the great importance of increasing healthy and varied nectar sources for bees, especially in cities. Providing a versatile flower-based nutrition for bees and other pollinators is the aim of Bayer’s US Feed a Bee initiative. Through the support of some 200,000 people and numerous industrial partners who helped plant forage for bees, large areas of additional flowering habitats have been created. These blooming strips increase bees’ food resources and thus improve their health. The Feed a Bee initiative is ongoing in 2016.

Read the original study in the Journal of Urban Ecology and another article about the paper on Phys.org.

Get more information on Bayer’s US initiative ”Feed a Bee”.

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