Bees depend on pollen as their primary source of amino acids. For colony growth and development it is not only important to have enough amino acids but also to have a good amino acid balance. Human diets mix combinations of foods. Plants low in some amino acids are eaten together with plants that are high in those same amino acids. Bees are faced with a similar challenge. Plant pollens differ in their amino acid content. Do bumblebees choose a mixed pollen diet and do they perform better on a mixed diet than on a single pollen?
Comparison of several bee species for amino acid content of their collected pollen, found that the content was similar even though the spectrum a plants visited differed.** Which pollen was collected depended largely on the availability of pollen nearby. In another study**, bumblebees were fed diets consisting of a pollen from a single plant or pollen from several plants. In most cases, the bees colony developed better with multiple pollen types. This may be in part due to balancing the amino acids in the diet but also minimizing the presence of toxins than may be accumulated if feeding on a single pollen type.
*Linda Kriesell, Andrea Hilpert & Sara D. Leonhardt. Different but the same: bumblebee species collect pollen of different plant sources but similar amino acid profiles. Apidologie February 2017, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 102–116
**ROMAIN MOERMAN, MARYSE VANDERPLANCK, DENIS FOURNIER, ANNE-LAURE JACQUEMART and
DENIS MICHEZ. Pollen nutrients better explain bumblebee colony development than pollen diversity. Insect Conservation and Diversity (2017)