There are approximately 20,000 bee species in the world and 1,600 species in California. Despite this diversity, honey bees are still arguably the most important managed pollinator, and this brief overview willfocus on issues plaguing this charismatic insect. However, many of the same stressors are certainly affecting other pollinator populations. In agriculture, honey bees are used for pollinating numerous food plants that make our diets more exciting and nutritious, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts, and they are a crucial contributor to healthy ecosystems.
However, beekeepers in the past decade have been reporting annual honey bee colony losses that have reached 45%, which is more than double the acceptable loss deemed by beekeepers.
More: Bugging Bees
In the study, published recently in the journal Microbial Ecology, the researchers first gave groups of bees different kinds of pollen. They found that sick bees, and not healthy bees, lived longer when they had access to the pollen that was more nutritious, even though it also increased the number of parasites found in their gut.