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Pollen selection by honeybees in shrublands of the northern sandplains of western Australia

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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 26 (4) pp. 224-232
December 1987
Article Title

Pollen selection by honeybees in shrublands of the northern sandplains of western Australia


Paul G. Van Der Moezel, Jeanette C. Delfs, John S. Pate, William A. Loneragan And David T. Bell


Commercial apiarists utilize the Northern Sandplain shrublands of Western Australia as winter honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) maintenance areas. Analyses of pollen loads collected from two hives stationed in these sandplains during June-September 1981 and 1982 showed that, among a total of 44 species exploited by the bees for pollen, the most commonly exploited were Leucopogon conostephioides, L. striatus and Acacia stenoptera. Species flowering locally in abundance were preferred, but some common species were never visited. L. conostephioides was a major source of pollen early in the two study seasons (1981 and 1982), followed later in the season by L. striatus (1981 only) and A. stenoptera (1982 only). A high degree of constancy during foraging forays by individual bees was evident from the finding that 52-79% of the pollen pellets of weekly samples consisted solely of pollen of a single plant species. Pollen of Northern Sandplain species varied considerably in crude protein, amino acid concentration and levels of nitrogen, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Preference of bees for pollen of certain species did not appear to be related to the presence in that pollen of high concentrations of any of the above consituents. The individual-constancy foraging theory best explains honeybee behaviour in the floristically rich shrublands of this region


Pollen, individual-constancy foraging theory, western Australia, foraging behaviour

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