7.1. Nutritional requirements of worker honey bees

Diet can affect honey bees in numerous ways including, for example, longevity (Schmidt et al., 1987) and physiology (Alaux et al., 2010). Under natural conditions, honey bees receive carbohydrates and proteins they require by consuming nectar and pollen stored in a colony as honey and bee bread, respectively. Carbohydrates are the source of energy for workers; whereas, proteins are crucial for building and maintaining tissues (e.g. Hersch et al., 1978; Pernal and Currie, 2000). Additional nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and lipids, are also obtained from pollen, although their importance are not well understood (Brodschneider and Crailsheim, 2010).

For proper growth and maintenance, each worker larva requires 59.4 mg of carbohydrates and 5.4 mg of pollen during their development (Rortais et al., 2005); whereas adult workers require ~4 mg of utilizable sugars (Barker and Lehner, 1974) and consume ~5 mg pollen (Pernal & Currie 2000) per day. Interestingly, under laboratory conditions caged workers self regulated their intake at approximately 10% proteins and 90% carbohydrates (Altaye et al., 2010). Although providing laboratory workers with these natural food types may not always be practical, or even ideal, it is necessary that they receive in some form appropriate quantities of essential nutrients that provide energy and promote proper growth and development (e.g. Pernal and Currie, 2000; Brodschneider and Crailsheim, 2010).