The researchers also found that bees that had been fed selenate in the lab were less responsive to sugar (as sucrose).
"The selenium interfered with their sucrose response," Hladun explained. "Such bees would be less likely to recruit bees to forage because they wouldn't be stimulated to communicate information about sucrose availability to the sister bees."
Trumble and Hladun also measured the mortality of forager bees that were fed selenium chronically (moderate selenium amounts over a few days). They found that these bees died at a significantly younger age.
Study results appear this month in PLoS ONE.
The researchers note that their work, performed in the laboratory, needs to be done next in the field because the bees' reduced response to sugar could diminish floral resources needed to support coworker bees and larvae in the field.
In preliminary studies they conducted in the field, the researchers found that some foragers leaving radish plants were carrying pollen with high concentrations of selenium. Further, they noted that plants with high concentrations of selenium were being visited by foragers just as frequently as were plants with no selenium, suggesting that the bees do not avoid feeding on selenium.
"The consequences of their inability to avoid selenium could be substantial," Trumble said. "We must emphasize that our data do not show that large losses of honey bees are currently occurring or that there is any relationship with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Field studies need to be conducted to determine if honey bees collect enough sel
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside