April 13, 2023
Let's talk about pollen!
Pollen is a protein for the bees. And when they eat pollen it sets the hive and queen in motion for producing brood. During the winter months, you don't want to feed the bees pollen but sugar or candy boards instead as it is a carbohydrate and keeps them full. But this time of year, you want the bees eating pollen and getting the system rolling again.
In the spring, with no flowers, we put pollen patties on our hives or if it's a warm day, place pollen on plates around the hives. The bees love it! But I learned something kind of cool from a book a friend recommended, OMFG, BEES! by Matt Kracht.
As a bee flies through the air, the extreme rapid flapping of her wings builds up a positive static electric charge. The pollen grains of a flower hold a negative charge and when a bee lands on that flower, that fine pollen gets shaken loose from that flowers anther. It's attracted to the positively charged hairs on the bees body, so it just leaps onto the bee without her having to touch it!
He goes on to say that there's even a study saying that there's evidence that bees can actually sense an electric field of flowers with their hairs and if a flower has lost too much of its negative charge, the bees know it has been depleted of pollen by other bees and won't waste the effort to check the flower out.
With her legs, the bee will wipe the pollen from her body onto her hind legs in pollen baskets. She will then return to the hive and place it in the pollen cells near the brood nest. The pollen will then be used to feed the young.
Did you know that a bee might visit between 50-1,000 plants a day to gather pollen? And an average colony of bees will collect up to 100 pounds of pollen in a season?
It's all so cool! Interestingly, honey is from the nectar the bees collect. And I'll do a post on that later.
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