Pollen for BEES to make more BEES,
Updated: Jan 14
POLLEN is a huge subject! POLLEN is a fine powdery substance that consists of POLLEN grains which are male. These male POLLEN grains produce Gamete (sperm cells). The POLLEN grain has a hard shell to protect itself when being moved by wind and pollinators. For the Honeybee the pollen is the main food source for building their colony. Pollen has basically all the proteins and minerals which are necessary to build a body. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_pollen Bees gather Pollen by visiting flowers and brushing the pollen grains together and forming a little ball that they carry on their back legs. They carry the Pollen-balls (one on each back leg) back to their colony and the pollen-balls will then be stored in the brood chamber. There it ferments in a very short time which breaks the hard pollen shell and makes the valuable food easily available for the bees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollen The two links I have added are a good brief writeup about what Pollen is. When Bees collect pollen they stay loyal to one type of flower, and that is why pollination works so well. For example, some bees from the colony just gather orange pollen from Dandelion, some bees from that same Colony gather only pollen from purple thistle, some bees from that same colony gather pale yellow pollen from Gorse, and a different group of bees from that same colony gather grey Kanuka pollen...........and when you look at it, it looks like this:
The two photos show pollen from 2 neighboring beehives. This is what they gathered in one day. It's easy to see how groups of bees stay loyal to the flowers. The beehives were 1 meter apart.
I took these Pollen photos a week ago from two side by side sitting bee colonies. The pollen was gathered with the help of a simple bee pollen trap where the bees have to go through small holes to reach their bee chamber. In that process, about 10- to 20% of the pollen which comes in with the field bees is stripped off their legs by crawling through the narrow hole. Here the pollen samples from two neighboring bee colonies. Note that the Pollen came in the same day and I took it off at the same time.
It's amazing how loyal groups of bees are to there flower sources within each colony. New research shows that the fresh fermented pollen in the beehive is preferred to the older Pollen in storage. That contributes to the clogged up frames with old pollen which beekeepers don't like much. Old pollen storages are almost never used up by the bees because of constant new pollen supply which must taste much better than the old one I guess. In the next blog, we will continue with Pollen in the Supplement industry and its true value for human consumption. Below a photo from the hive entrance with one bee having a ball of pollen on her back leg.