Do urban bees eat more junk food than rural bees?

Honey bee. Photo:SDF

Urban animals eat all kinds of things they would never eat in a ‘natural habitat’. Urban ants eat lots of foods left behind by people on the ground and in garbage bins. Clint Penick from the Dunn Lab recently published a paper showing that some ant species eat more processed human foods in highly urban traffic islands than in parks. Using a similar technique Clint, Cat Crofton, an undergraduate in our lab, and a team of others investigated if city honey bees also eat more soda and sweets than rural bees for lack of flowers. In turns out they don’t. In their new paper Clint and Cat show that honey bees managed by bee keepers consume more cane or corn derived sugar than feral bees because bee keepers provide supplemental sugar to their hives. Feral bees, those living in trees or other places and not managed by people, consume less cane or corn sugar than managed bees. They also seem to find enough flowers and other natural food sources in cities and don’t have to resort to human foods. Good news for bees and picnickers.

2017-06-19T11:01:59-04:00 May 17th, 2016|Categories: Pollinators, Urban Ecology|Tags: |

About the Author:

Steve Frank
I am broadly interested in the ecology and management of arthropod pests. Herbivorous arthropods cause extraordinary damage to plants in agricultural, urban, and natural ecosystems. Understanding interactions between pests and their environment, plant hosts, and natural enemies can improve management practices and reduce pesticide applications.