Monday, June 30, 2008

Bees can't find flowers, seek sweet insect treat


The disappearance of certain types of flowers in the UK may be driving bees to a less healthy diet.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust says that in recent years bees have been spotted feeding off the sugary secretions of aphids rather than the nectar of flowers. The behaviour isn't new, but researchers are seeing increased incidence of it lately and are speculating that it may be because there are fewer of the types of flowers that bees have typically used as food sources.

The change is more than just an interesting change in apian behaviour. Aphid secretions are basically fast food for bees - relatively easy to come by, but they don't have the proteins needed to keep the insects healthy.

If the trend is found to be widespread, it could be another factor in the mysterious disappearance of bee populations around the world. Bees, of course, are key to the pollination of plants including most fruits and vegetables, and without them our diet would be tedious indeed. Just another example of how the loss of biodiversity can affect us in ways we'd never imagined.

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