Protein Packed Pollen

honey bee collecting pollen from asparagus flower

If its not to make honey, then what is the pollen being collected for?

It is the bees’ source of protein. In a year, a colony needs to collect and eat about 45 kilos of pollen. No single pollen delivers the full protein requirement, so bees collect pollen from many different sources.

When stored in the comb, it is possible (to someone more experienced than us) to identify the flowers from which the pollen was collected, by looking at the colour.

Back at the hive, the pollen is mixed with salivary products and small quantities of honey, and then stored in antiseptic cells adjacent to the empty brood cells that await the new generation. There it undergoes a chemical change becoming what is referred to as ‘bee bread’. This bee bread is also the principle food of adult nurse bees. Once she has ingested it, her digestive enzymes transform the nutritional supplement into a type of ‘mother’s milk’ which is then fed to the infant bee larvae.

  • most pollen is used as food for the larvae
  • pollen is the male reproductive spore of the plant
  • the baskets on the back legs are called corbiculae

honey bee, with full pollen baskets, on asparagus flower

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Bee Ready

Bee Square : all ready for the new hive

Not long to wait now – all is in readiness for the new arrivals. All bee-keeping kit and caboodle has been sourced and purchased (quite an extensive list of Stuff). Exterior walls of the hive have been painted a rather odd, metallic green. Sheets of wax have been melded onto frames (more of that later, and the Delhom Methode for melting wax). A patch of the ‘garden’ has been determined suitable for bees (not too hot / cold / windy), cleared of weeds, covered in gravel and a pallet carefully levelled. This is now referred to as Bee Square (it’s 3m x 3m).

A local Master of Bees, Monsieur G. of Colomiers (henceforth referred to as the Venerable Beede), with 74 years experience of keeping bees, was contacted to let him know that we were keen to take the plunge into the intriguing world of apiculture. He called back some days later to let us know that he had a new colony up and running, and it was time to take the empty hive to him. He has added the populated frames, and anticipates that it will take about 10 days for this new colony to feel established in the hive. We saw them a few days ago and they are thriving and multiplying.

Now we just have to wait for the next phone call to say that we can go and pick up the hive and bring the babies home.