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Diet diversity affects health: honeybees


Honeybee / Ernie / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

Immunocompetence of honeybees is maintained with a diverse diet.

"The maintenance of the immune system can be costly, and a lack of dietary protein can increase the susceptibility of organisms to disease. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between protein nutrition and immunity in insects. Here, we tested in honeybees (Apis mellifera) whether dietary protein quantity (monofloral pollen) and diet diversity (polyfloral pollen) can shape baseline immunocompetence (IC) by measuring parameters of individual immunity (haemocyte concentration, fat body content and phenoloxidase activity) and glucose oxidase (GOX) activity, which enables bees to sterilize colony and brood food, as a parameter of social immunity. Protein feeding modified both individual and social IC but increases in dietary protein quantity did not enhance IC. However, diet diversity increased IC levels. In particular, polyfloral diets induced higher GOX activity compared with monofloral diets, including protein-richer diets. These results suggest a link between protein nutrition and immunity in honeybees and underscore the critical role of resource availability on pollinator health." (Alaux et al. 2010)
About the inspiring organism
honey bee
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Common name: Honey bee

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Maintaining healthy pollinator populations. Community planning to provide ecosystem services.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Agriculture

Laboratoire Biologie et Protection de l'abeille
Dr. C├ędric Alaux
French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)
Alaux C; Ducloz F; Crauser D; Le Conte Y. 2010. Diet effects on honeybee immunocompetence. Biology Letters.
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Black R. 2010. Bee decline linked to falling biodiversity. BBC News [Internet],
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