Honeybee populations across the world are declining at a rapid rate largely because of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a condition that causes entire colonies of bees to perish. The syndrome has been attributed to the lack of proper nourishment the bees receive, among other stressors such as pesticides and parasites.
However, a recent study carried out by the Arizona State University is implying that if baby bees or the larvae are starved briefly, these little ones grow up to be more resilient. They adapt more strongly to the environment even if there is a lack of adequate nutrition.
"Surprisingly, we found that short-term starvation in the larval stage makes adult honeybees more adaptive to adult starvation. This suggests that they have an anticipatory mechanism like solitary organisms do," said Ying Wang, an assistant research professor at the Arizona State University.
In a related study, the researchers also discovered that the bees that were starved as larvae have the ability to lower their metabolic rate, maintain blood sugar levels and sustain other bodily functions. By doing so, the bees' potential for survival is exponentially increased, even when faced with a dire sequence of nutritional deficiency.
The two studies, which were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, could help in throwing more light on the CCD phenomena, as well as in understanding the bees' health and sustenance.
The global human population is rising at an alarming rate, and ensuring that food supply reaches far and wide is of prime significance. Honeybees play a pivotal role in balancing the ecosystem and ensuring food security. They help pollinate the crops and invariably have a vital influence on the global food supply.
Honeybee colonies are managed across the world for the purpose of continued pollination. In the 1940s, the number of colonies that existed was a whopping 5 million, and this figure has drastically plummeted to an estimated 2.5 million today. With CCD being one of the prime causes for this decline, the new research might hold some hope in resolving this issue.