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US News Too much sugar in nectar 'slows down bees'

15:40  22 january  2020
15:40  22 january  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Sugar in the nectar makes it appealing, and the more sugar within the nectar , the more energy it contains. However, nectar also gets thicker and A bumblebee on a Dusky Cranesbill geranium plant Credit: Victoria Jones/PA. But as it gets more sugary , it gradually takes bees longer to drink, but

I'm gonna BEE sick! Too much sugar in nectar slows down bumblebees as it takes them longer to Bees drink nectar from flowers and then carry it back to their nest to throw up Sugar makes the nectar appealing and provides energy but too much can be bad

Too much sugar can be a bad thing for bees © Other Too much sugar can be a bad thing for bees

Too much sugar in nectar slows down bees, a study has found.

Bumblebees offload the nectar they drink from flowers by vomiting, but the more sugar nectar contains, the thicker and stickier it becomes - meaning it takes more time and energy for the bees to regurgitate it.

A report, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, looked at both stages - drinking and vomiting - in one of the most common bumblebees in the UK, the Bombus terrestris (or the buff-tailed bumblebee).

As part of the study, they were allowed to forage on three different concentrations of sugar solutions - with researchers timing how long it took the bees to vomit up the nectar they had collected.

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Nectar that is low in sugar is easy for bees to drink and very easy to vomit back up. As nectar gets more sugary , it gradually takes bees longer to drink, but swiftly "Bumblebees must strike a balance between choosing a nectar that is energy-rich, but isn't too time-consuming to drink and offload.

This is one way we feed our bees here at Barnyard Bees . When nectar flow slows down , and we are still propagating bees , you have to feed them. And feeding


Dr Jonathan Patrick said: "For low strength nectar, bees had a quick vomit that only lasted a few seconds, then were back out and foraging again.

"But for really thick nectar they took ages, sometimes straining for nearly a minute."

Usually, bees regurgitate the drink faster than they consume it.

"It's hard to drink a thick, sticky liquid, but imagine trying to spit it out again through a straw - that would be even harder.

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"At a certain sugar concentration, the energy gain - versus energy loss - is optimised for nectar feeders.

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In it, the bees are tested on how quickly they regurgitate nectar of varying compositions, in addition to how much of it they have consumed. This clip shows footage from a research study conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge. In it, the bees are tested on how quickly they regurgitate

But nectar also gets more thick and sticky as the sugar content rises, and this makes it more difficult for bees to drink and regurgitate –. A new study using bumblebees has found that the sweetest nectar is not necessarily the best: too much sugar slows down the bees .

"Bumblebees must strike a balance between choosing a nectar that is energy-rich, but isn't too time-consuming to drink and offload.

"Nectar sugar concentration affects the speed of the bees' foraging trips, so it influences their foraging decisions."

The scientists hope their study can help other researchers make better predictions as to which types of nectar bumblebees and other pollinators would prefer - and therefore the kinds of flowers they are more likely to visit.

That, in turn, could help crop breeders produce the most appealing plants, and therefore lead to higher yields.

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