Honey bee plants
Study: Heather as a honey bee plant
Heather is important autumn forage plants for honey bees, making up a large proportion of their winter honey stores.
The aim is to compare the 3 heathers*:
Calluna vulgaris, Erica cinerea (Bell heather), Erica tetralix.
Recent research** has introduced the concept of an ‘in-hive pharmacy’ where honey bees select honey made from different floral sources according to the needs of the hive.
This study will look at the qualities of these plants that honey bees overwinter on. Is it possible that the plant qualities could be passed onto the bees through the honey?
*Calluna is a heather whereas Erica species are heaths
** 1 Diversity of honey stores and their impact on pathogenic bacteria of the honeybee, Apis mellifera Silvio Erler Ecol Evol. 2014 Oct; 4(20): 3960–3967.
2 Increased Resin Collection after Parasite Challenge: A Case of Self-Medication in Honey Bees? Michael D. Simone-Finstrom, Marla Spivak Published: March 29, 2012