NutriB2 - Nutrition as critical link between Biodiversity and Bee health - a research project funded under the 2019 joint BiodivERsA Call on "Biodiversity and its influence on animal, human and plant health".
Context and objectives of the project:
It is estimated that approximately 80% of wild plants and 75% of cultivated plants are directly dependent on pollinators, so without pollinators, those plants would not be able to produce seeds and fruits. The value of the labor performed by bees worldwide is estimated to be 153 million euro per year, which is equal to 9.5% of the value of all agricultural products on earth. It is therefore clear that bees are invaluable to the human economy and nutrition as well as overall ecosystem functioning.
Decrease in the plant diversity is commonly thought to be one of the main causes of the dwindling numbers of pollinators, including wild bees, worldwide. Currently, governments and the societies are attempting to combat this phenomenon by curbing the use of pesticides and improving the quality of food sources for bees. The knowledge on what nutrients are crucial for wild bee diets is a prerequisite to tailor conservation efforts to protect this group of insects.
Monotonous or low-quality diet and toxic substances negatively affect overall condition and health of wild bee individuals leading to a decrease in their populations on both local and global scales. Conversely, a diverse diet ensures the right balance in nutritional requirements, and mitigates detrimental effects of toxic compounds. It is likely that different plant species provide bees with varying amounts of certain nutrients in proportions that are often inadequate. Therefore, having access to a diverse spectrum of food resources may be crucial for bee condition, health and prosperity.
For all these reasons we constantly strive to gain a better understanding of the complex relationships between wild bees’ nutrition, interaction with pathogens, bees’ health and their diversity. We will study the nutritional dietary demands of European wild bee species, the supply of nutrients in their food offered by different plant species as well as toxic compounds, both natural and of human origin, that are present in this food. Implementing our solutions will strengthen the protection of wild bees and consequently secure the future of our food supply.