Queen bees made by sweetness

Queens bees start from the same type of egg as any other worker bee, but they are exclusively fed 'royal jelly' which has a higher sugar content than the more protein based diet of worker bees. So the bee's gene expression is modified by diet. I like to think that queen bees are made by sweetness.

It should come as no surprise to discover we can alter the bee's gene expression by what we feed them. In the paper "Diet-dependent gene expression in honey bees: honey vs. sucrose or high fructose corn syrup" Marsha M. Wheeler1 & Gene E. Robinson1,2,3 Publish 17th July 2014 in Scientific Reports:

"Of major concern is nutrition, as malnutrition in honey bees is associated with immune system impairment and increased pesticide susceptibility. Beekeepers often feed high fructose corn syrup  (HFCS) or sucrose after harvesting honey or during periods of nectar dearth. We report that, relative to honey, chronic feeding of either of these two alternative carbohydrate sources elicited hundreds of differences in gene expression in the fat body"

"Our results suggest that bees receive nutritional components from honey that are not provided by alternative food sources widely used in apiculture."

If we care about the long term future of bees, the Beekeeper must learn to stop feeding bees sugar and leave enough honey for winter stores or poor summers.

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