Question
Asked 13th Feb, 2014

Do bees feed from medicinal plants' pollen and nectar for using their antibiotical effect?

Our unpublished study shows that more than 90% of bees' food plants are among medicinal plants. If we collect some bees and protect them in captivity, with plenty of pollen and sugar solution they may die as a result of infection while they can manipulate themselves in the nature using of food plants like medicinal plants.

Most recent answer

18th Jul, 2015
Kyriaki Zannettou
Cyprus Environmental Federation
there are several types of honey and honey of a specific medicinal plant can be use medicinally for the properties of this plant. there are medicinal plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic ect properties.also some essential oil of medicinal plants are use to treat bees parasites

All Answers (35)

14th Feb, 2014
Fgpaul Clark
Thompson Rivers University
As a beekeeper, this is a very interesting question!
14th Feb, 2014
Tajudeen Yahaya
Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state Nigeria
Yes! They feed on pollen and nectar of medicinal and food plants. In fact, their byproduct is the honey.
1 Recommendation
14th Feb, 2014
Sergio Angeli
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Well, the question is how to define medical plants. Virtually every plant may have some active (medical) metabolites. If we think for instance about propolis and manuka honey we well know that bees profit of many plant metabolites... Anyway, this is a nice point of view.
2 Recommendations
14th Feb, 2014
Raffaele Dall'Olio
it's really hard to believe, since most of the molecules that have antibiotic effect do not ends up in nectar AFAIK. pollen neither. It's more likely IMO that bees collect resins, essential oils from plants to get this benefit they do not have from pollen and sugar solution.
14th Feb, 2014
Raffaele Dall'Olio
Moreover, can you specify what you mean by "if we collect some bees and protect them in captivity" ? Indoor hives? Bee cage? How many bees? Did you infected them with what? Individually or bulk infection?
1 Recommendation
14th Feb, 2014
Ofélia Anjos
Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco
In fact pollen is very rich food supplement given by their nutritional composition, but its composition is also quite variable given by the different floral sources. Moreover some plants could be have some active metabolites not interest as food supplement for some group of individuals.
1 Recommendation
14th Feb, 2014
Raffaele Dall'Olio
Ofelia what do you mean? "rich" of ? variable in aminoacidic composition, ok, but other than that? I did not get your point regarding pollen; I agree with the last sentence
1 Recommendation
14th Feb, 2014
Ofélia Anjos
Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco
Maybe wealthy.
Pollen is good supplement in fact, but there composition varies not only in aminoacids but also in mineral content and phenolic for example.
2 Recommendations
14th Feb, 2014
Raffaele Dall'Olio
Ok, but.. are you referring to its supplement importance for human or for bees?
1 Recommendation
14th Feb, 2014
Ofélia Anjos
Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco
Human, But is also fundamental for bees.
2 Recommendations
14th Feb, 2014
Anna Maria Mercuri
Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Dear Alireza,
your research is truly interesting! I hope that you will improve tests and proofs. Data collection is very important but the interpretation is complex because several elements concurs to the bee's behavior observed.
For example, I propose you to read your data even in an evolutionary (darwinian) perspective.
1) "more than 90% of bees' food plants are among medicinal plants" = entomophilous plants produce biomolecules that had developed under the pressure of co-evolution with insects and other pollinators. Biomolecules are attractive for pollinators AND have several chemical properties including medicinal properties.
2) "If we collect some bees and protect them in captivity..." = when diet is rich and varied as in the wild, the different composition is a 'good food' itself;
3) "using of food plants like medicinal plants" = The bees feeding on medicinal plants have a greater likelihood of survival, and transmit the information to the rest of the hive.
2 Recommendations
14th Feb, 2014
Jose-Luis Reyes-Carrillo
Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN)
where do I can get the data or when it will be published this valuable information?
1 Recommendation
15th Feb, 2014
Neem Hakim
International Center for Integrated Herbal Research and Development
I am working on medicinal plants for last 33 years and also written 9 books on it. We are also producing medicinal honey keeping bees in the MAPs garden and using this honey for AP therapies. Your question "Do bees feed from medicinal plants' pollen and nectar for using their antibiotical effect"? is very important and open a research door for herbalist, AP therapist and also in natural medical scenes. My answer "YES".
3 Recommendations
15th Feb, 2014
Alireza Monfared
Yasouj University
Dear All,
Thanks for your all interesting answers. The main sample of bees which we can test in laboratory are fresh queens of bumblebees appeared in the nature. I can guess there are many discussion here on bumblebees too when we talk about rearing them in captivity. I am deal with them for 10 years in dark room and know various aspects of them......May all say we use of fresh pollen collected by honeybees which they collect from these plants too. here would be some new questions about collected POLLEN and other its content material and also changing of components when freeze Also on NECTAR which we changed it to sugar solution.
In our test we also added antibiotics to their foods and have good results. Notice that we are talking about collected specimens from NATURE not industrial colonies. There are many points here which I want to all to discuss about them.....
Alireza
1 Recommendation
15th Feb, 2014
Maitree - Suttajit
Chiang Mai Univ. /Univ. of Phayao. Thailand
Hi Alireza: Yes, I agree with those comments and answers that your findings are very interesting! However, I also think that bees are naturally smart to select the best and qualified nectar. In Chiang Mai, north Thailand, bees from their hives are preferred to put under longan trees and farms for collecting the honey with the best quality . Longan nectar and honey from longan flowers are good and popularly used for strength recovery and immunity for people.
2 Recommendations
15th Feb, 2014
Arun Jugran
GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
Ya I have personal observation of this that bees feed on medicinal plants. As nectar is good supplement of various nutrient but there composition varies from the source that is taken from and composition of aminoacids mineral content and phenolics. Further, phenolics (isoflavonoids and others) provides antimicrobial activity so this could be the reason.
1 Recommendation
15th Feb, 2014
Rajasekaran Chandrasekaran
Vellore Institute of Technology
Yes, Plants rather than climb Medicinal plants - possess many secondary metabolites in nector tract is responsible for this antibiotical effcect.
15th Feb, 2014
Kyriaki Zannettou
Cyprus Environmental Federation
Yes bees are mostly feed on medicinal plants, and if you feed them particularly with one specie medicinal plant their honey poses the medicinal properties of this plant and is used like med honey. Most of the medicinal plants have antibiotic properties so there is no need to add antibiotics in there feed this is the first point and the second this addition will interfere in your results.- you are far from natural testing
2 Recommendations
15th Feb, 2014
Anna Maria Mercuri
Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Dear Kyriaki Zannettou, I am very interesting on your statements, especially "honey poses the medicinal properties of this plant " - I have some students working on this: please, could you provide some scientific paper to reference to help us in this type of research? Thank you!
15th Feb, 2014
Kyriaki Zannettou
Cyprus Environmental Federation
dear Anna Maria Mercuri, I am sorry but I haven't something in mind as I am working with the traditional medicine knowledge.
famous are med honey from Salvia, Pinus, Citrus, Thymus, Tilia ect
1 Recommendation
15th Feb, 2014
Chlodwig Franz
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The answer to this question is an almost clear "yes"! It depends if the pollen and especially the nectar contains respective antimicrobial substances - which are not always in this fraction due to solubility (polar/apolar substances).
Robert Raguso/USA and the group on honeybee at University Cambridge/GB are working on this topic, as far as I know.
1 Recommendation
16th Feb, 2014
Denis Zofou
University of Buea
The topic is highly interesting !
We need more systematic analysis on this. Is it a simple coincidence, or do beers really have some preference for plant species with pharmacological active ingredients? We need to find out
17th Feb, 2014
Suresh Govindaraghavan
IMCD Australia
In all these discussion, there is an underlying assumption that honey/nectar collected from medicinal plants will have the same chemistry as the plant part shown to be effective.
1. There are spatio-(eg plant part) - temporal (eg. time of collection) differences in the phytochemistry (composition and quantity) even within medicinal plants species. Chemistry of the specific plant part (used in medicine) need not necessarily be the same in pollen/honey of that species.
2. Accordingly, it is important to decipher the compositional chemistry of the pollen and the honey/nectar of any given species.
3. One has to understand the distances that bees travel from their hives; the plant species they encounter with in their collection range and specifically the ones from where they collect honey (are there 'plant host' specificity by the bee species???). These factors will affect compositional heterogeneity/homogeneity.
4. Unless there is a monoculture of a given medicinal plant (for eg. lavender fields for miles and miles), it is difficult to have a honey that is more or less homogeneous/consistent in the compositional chemistry.
As an initial exercise, it may be important to analyse and compare compositional chemistry of honey in different hives within a specific location to establish comositional homogeneity Unless, consistency in compositional chemistry is achieved, medicinal effects cannot be assured/corraborated.
Unfortunately, research on the chemistry of pollen/nectar/honey of medicinal species itself has been fragmentary.
2 Recommendations
17th Feb, 2014
Kyriaki Zannettou
Cyprus Environmental Federation
we know that bees collect nectar in a radius of 4.5-5 kms and if they have enough nectar nearby they don't go far.
sorry my English is not so good but think about the bioenergy of the plants is localized in radix and top of the stems, and during flowering period to the flowers.
17th Feb, 2014
Christian W W Pirk
University of Pretoria
Look into propolis research there are ample evidence that bees use it for self-medication. I would also look into secondary metabolite, like nicotine, research.
A good starting point would be the books: Honeybees of Africa and Honeybees of Asia published by Springer.
regarding your observation: What else was flowering, how did you collect the data? It is rather difficult to come up with an explanation if the methods are not detailed enough. How many colonies did you use?
Furthermore - there is evidence that bees regulate the nutritional intake and there is evidence for self-medication so I would suggest to design an experiment to test the hypothesis you mention.
1 Recommendation
17th Feb, 2014
Christian W W Pirk
University of Pretoria
Alternatively, the "medical" plants within the proximity of your colonies might full-fill the nutritional requirements of your colonies due to a lack of alternatives.
I suggest to design an experiment and test it.
Nutrition affects survival in African honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata) exposed to interacting stressors
C. Ruth Archer, Christian W.W. Pirk, Geraldine A. Wright, Sue W. Nicolson
Functional Ecology (Impact Factor: 4.86). 12/2013; DOI:10.1111/1365-2435.12226
Simultaneous stressors: interactive effects of an immune challenge and dietary toxin can be detrimental to honeybees.
Angela Köhler, Christian W W Pirk, Susan W Nicolson
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa.
Journal of insect physiology (Impact Factor: 2.24). 04/2012; 58(7):918-23. DOI:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.04.007
Honeybees and nectar nicotine: deterrence and reduced survival versus potential health benefits.
Angela Köhler, Christian W W Pirk, Susan W Nicolson
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa.
Journal of insect physiology (Impact Factor: 2.24). 12/2011; 58(2):286-92. DOI:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.12.002
The importance of protein type and protein to carbohydrate ratio for survival and ovarian activation of caged honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata)
Christian W. W. Pirk, Chiraag Boodhoo, Hannelie Human, Susan W. Nicolson
Apidologie (Impact Factor: 2.16). 01/2010; 41(1):62-72. DOI:10.1051/apido/2009055
17th Feb, 2014
Chlodwig Franz
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Silvia Sponza, Univ. Udine, Italia made her PhD Thesis in cooperation with my Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna on honey quality, especially content of secondary plant substances: main species taken into consideration was Salvia officinalis, and the honey was collected in Istria and Dalmatia. There were quite different chemical compositions in the field of secondary compounds, especially some antioxidants could be isolated but very little essential oil components.
1 Recommendation
17th Feb, 2014
Alireza Monfared
Yasouj University
Dear Christian,
Many thanks for all your guidance. We don't work on honey bees at all although it is now as WHITE MOUSE in many tests. We work on bumblebees. Do you know about bumblebees in this regards. Furthermore we have 20.000 species of bees and honey bees is just one species. Certainly we have various physiological differences between all these species. May we have similarity among them. In our test we use collected fresh queens of bumblebees from nature not colonies. Yes, we can develop our method in our tests.
Many thanks Christian for your helps...
18th Feb, 2014
Chlodwig Franz
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Bumblebees: ask Prof. Robert Raguso, Cornell University, USA, he is working on this topic!
7th Mar, 2014
Leif L. Richardson
Stone Environmental Inc
Alireza, I am interested in the same question. In research in our group we have found that a variety of nectar secondary metabolites reduce bumble bee parasite load, although some also increase bee mortality. We have not yet shown that bees self-medicate when they are sick, but our research suggests that they might, at least under certain conditions. What parasites or pathogens are carried by the bees you study?
8th Mar, 2014
Maitree - Suttajit
Chiang Mai Univ. /Univ. of Phayao. Thailand
Please also connect and ask Prof. Siriwat Wongsiri, a bee expert and the President of Asian Apiculture Association (AAA) at his facebook website:https://www.facebook.com/siriwat.wongsiri?fref=browse_search
18th Jul, 2015
Bożena Denisow
University of Life Sciences in Lublin
The study of bee preferences are of great importance and it seems resonable that the preferences are multifactorial and refere to floral morphology, nectar and pollan quality and quantity. For example, my observations conducted in ruderal phytoconenoses located in urban environment revealed that the protein content in pollen did not affect foraging preferences. The presence of starch in pollen grains determines the presence of pollinators. Solitary bees, Diptera and Syrphidae eagerly visit plant species that contain starch in pollen grains, this source of energy is insignificant for Apis mellifera, whereas species of the genus Bombus avoid starchy pollen.
Apis mellifera prefers to visit plant species with an even small amount of pollen produced in flowers, but with an abundant flowering resulting in a high pollen yield per unit area over a short period of time. Other Apoidea eagerly collect pollen forage when the species bloom less abundantly and their pollen yield is low. A lot of medicinal plants was among  ruderal flora. I supose,  bioactive substances present in medicinal plants may modify insect visitors preferences, but the quastion is to what degree?
18th Jul, 2015
Kyriaki Zannettou
Cyprus Environmental Federation
there are several types of honey and honey of a specific medicinal plant can be use medicinally for the properties of this plant. there are medicinal plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic ect properties.also some essential oil of medicinal plants are use to treat bees parasites

Similar questions and discussions

Related Publications

Article
Full-text available
Bees mainly rely on pollen for their protein resources. As these molecules are essential for numerous aspects of bee physiology like ovary development and larval growth, their quantification and determination are crucial to evaluate diet quality. However, the term "protein" has been used to mention crude protein, total amino acids, or protein sensu...
Article
Tijdens het symposium van bijen@wur PRI op 18 maart vertelde Sjef van der Steen over zijn onderzoek in 2009 en 2010 naar invloed van variatie en continuïteit in de aanvoer van stuifmeel op de vitaliteit van bijenvolken. Voor Bijenhouden schreef hij een artikel over zijn aanpak en de uitkomsten, met tot slot advies voor de imker.
Article
Full-text available
In honey bees, food, gut microorganisms, and their nestmates may contribute to the health status of newly emerged worker bees. However, relatively little data are available regarding the extent to which supplemental protein feeding impacts bee colony health and mortality. The present research compared the efficacy of different diets supplements, i....
Got a technical question?
Get high-quality answers from experts.