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Israeli Researchers Find What Bees Can Teach Humans About Dieting

The Jerusalem Post reports: While humans often fail to balance their diets despite expert advice, honeybees are so smart that, according to Hebrew University researchers, they seek out pollen that specifically balances their nutritional deficits and extends their lives.

In recent decades the industrious insects have been threatened by pesticides and pathogens, with reports of decreases in their numbers around the world. As a result, there has been a growing appreciation for the need of bee colonies for balanced nutrition.

As colonies are kept in agricultural areas for crop pollination, they may encounter nutritional deficits when foraging predominantly on one pollen source. In California, for instance, 1.6 million bee colonies are kept every year in almond orchards, despite the risk of low floral diversity, which can reduce the life expectancy of bees.

Because of the challenge that this agricultural intensification poses for pollinator habitats, HU’s Dr. Harmen Hendriksma and Prof. Sharoni Shafir just reported in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology that honeybee colonies are astoundingly resilient under nutritional stress. They found that bees can shift their foraging effort toward resources that complement nutritional deficits.

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