Internship Program Reports

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An independent study project report by The Eli Kirk Price Endowed Flora of Pennsylvania Intern (2011-2012)


Pollen, the primary dietary source of proteins, lipids, vitamins, and minerals, is essential to the physiological development of adult honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). A varied pollen diet is vital to immune system maintenance, organ development, and colony succession via brood production. The reasons for the recent decline in honey bee populations are wide-ranging but include a lack of diverse nectar and pollen resources. Resource deficiency and colony fitness is well understood within natural and agricultural landscapes; few studies have determined the importance of a polyfloral diet for bees existing in areas of intense development. Focusing on honey bees in the city of Philadelphia, we investigated the range of plants utilized as pollen sources and if there are significant colony-level benefits to foraging diversity. We examined the pollen content of honey samples collected from 15 Philadelphia hives from August to November 2011. Late season fitness of colonies was assessed by measuring hive-area covered by brood found in sampled hives. The findings presented here shed light on taxa visited by honey bees in an urban ecosystem. Identification and selection of plants shown to be principal pollen sources can be used to promote effective pollinator restoration programs in developing cities.


Botany | Horticulture



Date Posted: 09 September 2019