Bees Busy Bringing in the Pollen

We visited 2 more apiaries today and witnessed many different colours of pollen sacks on the bees. From each flower they visit, bees collect pollen, which contains the male reproductive cells of those plants. The bees take that pollen and combine it with a bit of nectar and their own digestive enzymes to create pollen granules. They transport the granules by adhering the pollen granule to their rear legs while they forage. The composition of pollen is highly dependent on what flowers the bees visit. On average the composition is 40-60% simple sugars, 20-60% proteins, 3 percent minerals and vitamins, 1-30% fatty acids. Interestingly pollen may also contain some bacteria and fungi. Proponents of bee pollen for humans use it to relieve inflammation, strengthen the immune system, ease symptoms of the menopause, and as a dietary supplement, especially beneficial to people who are convalescing after an illness.

Ceri has decided to trial a pollen trap bought from the Ukraine, he will harvest the pollen by placing a screen at the bottom of the beehive, the bees crawl through the screen as they enter the hive. The screens holes are sized to just fit the bee’s body, but not the “baggage”. The pollen is knocked off the bee’s legs and is collected below. The pollen is an important source of food for the bees, they are vegetarian, and the pollen provides all of their protein, so the trap is only in place on alternate days and only for a few days, so the health of the colony is not impacted significantly. The advantage of the Ukranian trap design is that they have built in drone escapes so as not to impact on the welfare of the drones. We look forward to trying these traps later in some of the warm days of spring.