Scientists at the University of California at Riverside have found that climate change negatively affects the nutrition of bumblebees, whose existence is associated with the pollination of many cultivated plants, including tomatoes, blueberries, peppers, and potatoes. This is reported in an article published in the journal Microbial Ecology.
As the researchers write, climate change affects the microbial balance of flower nectar, which is a food source for insects. This endangers the health of bumblebees, which, in turn, will affect the availability of fresh food. Even with a slight increase in temperature, the metabolism of microbes accelerates, which causes them to multiply faster and absorb a larger percentage of sugars in the nectar.
To test the taste preferences of bumblebees, scientists have prepared several types of nectar in the laboratory. A number of nectar samples were sterile, and some contained microbes placed in conditions with low or high temperatures.
It turned out that bumblebees preferred only nectar with a certain number of microbes, even if it contained less sugar. They refused nectar with too many microbes, as well as nectar without microbes. Scientists suggest that bacteria and yeast help bumblebees digest sugar or microorganisms produce metabolites beneficial to insect health.