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British Beekeepers Association
12th May 2011

Improving Honey Bee Health by Enhancing the Palatability of Food Supplements

The BBKA's £17,000 grant has enabled Keele University to obtain £60,000 from the Perry Foundation.

An £80,000 study which aims to improve the taste of artificial diets fed to honey bees has been awarded annual ‘seed-core’ funding from the British Beekeepers Association. The BBKA’s £17,600 grant has enabled Keele University to obtain more than £60,000 from the Perry Foundation, to award a four-year post graduate scholarship to former student, Richard Bridgett.

Starting this month, Richard will work together with Dr Falko Drijfhout at Keele University and Dr David Aston, Chair of the BBKA’s Technical and Environmental Committee, to study methods to enhance honey bee health by looking for substances in pollen that stimulate bees to feed. BBKA members will be taking part in the final stages of the project.

The team will launch a full investigation into determining which compounds are responsible for the palatability of pollen to the honey bee, studying compounds from various pollen sources to determine if these compounds are common or specific to a plant species. These natural compounds can then either be isolated, or synthesised, and mixed in with pollen substitutes to increase their palatability.

Dr Aston, said: “One of the major factors responsible for the global decline in honey bees is the nutritional status of the colonies. Poor nutrition affects bees’ resistance to disease.

“In certain parts of the world, it has been established that giving additional pollen to a honey bee colony , often in the form of pollen patties, has improved its strength. It is believed that feeding stimulants, natural compounds within pollen itself, influence honey bee feeding behaviour.

BBKA funding has come from donations raised by its Adopt a Beehive fundraising campaign which gives people who want to help honey bees without having a hive of their own, the opportunity to donate to bee health research and beekeeper education.

Related Links Adopt A Bee Hive Scheme.