Floral Diversity of Pollen Collected by Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.) – Validation of the Chromatic Assessment Method

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Abstract

Pollen collected from flowers by forager bees is the only natural protein source for the hive. This nutritional compound is fundamental for the nurse bee and brood development, and for the queen activity. Pollen has a strong influence on colony health. It is also known that the pollen quality, in terms of the amino acid profile and total protein content, varies significantly according to the floral origin. For this reason, the palynological diversity assessed in corbicular pollen is a good measure of the quality of the environment the bees live in, in terms of available food.

An international research initiative “C.S.I. Pollen” aims to elaborate a pollen diversity map for all of Europe, carried out by beekeepers. Chromatic assessment of pellet colours will be used as a method. In our study, we wanted to validate this idea, through the comparison between the two methods: chromatic assessment of the diversity of pollen pellet colours and palynological assessment of the real pollen type diversity. In other words, we wanted to verify whether the pellet-colour profile reflects the palynological one.

We found a significant correlation between results obtained from the two methods but some improvements are also proposed in order to increase the determination coefficient and to reduce the differences given by the two answers.

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