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Synergistic and Dichotomous Effects of Nectar Phenolics on Honey Bee Colonies

Synergistic and Dichotomous Effects of Nectar Phenolics on Honey Bee Colonies

Xueli Jiang1,2, Jie Gao3, Muhammad Zahid Sharif1,2, Xuewen Zhang4 and Fanglin Liu1,*

1Institute of Technical Biology and Agriculture Engineering, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei, 230031, P.R. China 
2University of Science and technology of China, Hefei, 230026, P.R. China
3Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbannan Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, Yunnan, China
4Bee Research Laboratory, Institute of Sericulture and Apiculture, Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Mengzi 661101, Yunnan, China

*      Corresponding author:


Nectar phenolics have a widespread effect on honey bees and their colonies. Because of their complex, non-linear interactions, it is difficult to assess honey bee health risks from exposure to real-world floral nectar with complex phenolic mixture. In the study, we investigate the bee losses of Apis mellifera in the flowering period of the Mexican sunflower Tithonia diversifolia in southwestern China, and use data mining approach to model the relationships between nectar phenolics and bee losses. The results show that bee losses are closely related to the phenolics of isochlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid and galangin, identified from the sunflower nectar. The nectar phenolics do not cause bee-poisoning to death, but can trigger bee colonies to explore food sources at risk. Also, each of these phenolics acts in a dichotomous mode, with above a certain value destructing colonies and below such value affecting little. This study provides new insight into the mechanism underlying the catastrophic events of bee losses or honey harvests, which have been reported worldwide.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 53, Iss. 6, Pages 2001-2521


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