Temporal Patterns of Honeybee Foraging in a Diverse Floral Landscape Revealed Using Pollen DNA Metabarcoding of Honey

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Understanding the plants pollinators use through the year is vital to support pollinator populations and mitigate for declines in floral resources due to habitat loss. DNA metabarcoding allows the temporal picture of nectar and pollen foraging to be examined in detail. Here, we use DNA metabarcoding to examine the forage use of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) within a florally diverse landscape within the UK, documenting the key forage plants used and seasonal progression over two years. The total number of plant taxa detected in the honey was 120, but only 16 of these were found with a high relative read abundance of DNA, across the main foraging months (April-September). Only a small proportion of the available flowering genera in the landscape were used by the honeybees. The greatest relative read abundance came from native or near-native plants, including Rubus spp., Trifolium repens, the Maleae tribe including Crataegus, Malus and Cotoneaster, and Hedera helix. Tree species were important forage in the spring months, followed by increased use of herbs and shrubs later in the foraging season. Garden habitat increased the taxon richness of native, near-native and horticultural plants found in the honey. Although horticultural plants were rarely found abundantly within the honey samples, they may be important for increasing nutritional diversity of the pollen forage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology - Virtual
Duration: 3 Jan 202228 Feb 2022


Conference2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

ID: 310496410