Adequate protein levels are necessary to maintain strong honey bee [Apis mellifera (L.) ] colonies. The aim of this study was to quantify how pollens with different crude protein contents influence protein stores within individual honey bees. Caged bees were fed one of three diets, consisting of high—protein-content pollen, low—protein-content pollen, or protein-free diet as control; measurements were made based on protein content in hemolymph and fat body, fat body weight, and body weight. Vitellogenin in hemolymph was also measured. Bees fed with high crude protein diet had significantly higher levels of protein in hemolymph and fat bodies. Caged bees did not increase pollen consumption to compensate for the lower protein in the diet, and ingesting ≈4 mg of protein per bee could achieve levels of 20 µg/µl protein in hemolymph. Worker bees fed with low crude protein diet took more time in reaching similar protein content of the bees that were fed with high crude protein diet. The data showed that fat bodies and body weight were not efficient methods of measuring the protein status of bees. The determination of total protein or vitellogenin concentration in the hemolymph from 13-d-old bees and protein concentration of fat bodies from 9-d-old bees could be good indicators of nutritional status of honey bees.
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Vol. 106 • No. 4