Saturday, January 22, 2011

Honey Bees and Toxin Filled Nectar

Scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have found that honey bees learn to avoid nectar containing plant toxins, but they will still eat the nectar when there is no other alternative available. They found that when bees are surrounded by toxic plants such as almonds or apples, they are forced to eat the toxic nectar. This may be another factor affecting colony health. Their study showed that bees that ate toxin filled nectar became sick, so they avoided the smell of the toxic flowers. By understanding how honey bees learn to detect toxins could help to breed plants that do not contain toxins, so the honey bees will be more protected.

Photo of a honey bee. Photo by the Texas A&M University Honey Bee Lab, College Station, TX.

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