Just like people, honeybees need nutritious food to stay strong and healthy. Now, more than two dozen beekeepers throughout the United States are giving their bees a chance to taste-test a new, high-energy drink formulated especially for hardworking honeybees.

The new beverage formulation may bolster the pollination prowess of domesticated honeybees, Apis mellifera. Honeybees are the primary pollinators of dozens of fruit, nut, seed and fiber crops.

The smoothie mix is a light-tan powder, about the texture of wheat flour. The formula provides protein and carbohydrate needed to keep adult honeybees well nourished when their regular foods — pollen and nectar from flowers — aren't readily available.

The powdered formula is the work of entomologist Gordon I. Wardell of Arizona-based SAFE Research and Development LLC and ARS colleague Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, research leader and entomologist at the ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz. Wardell is collaborating with ARS colleagues under terms of a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.