The quality and composition of pollen directly affect the successful breeding of the brood and the existence of the bee family as a whole. It is a natural source of vegetable protein, fats, vitamin and mineral compounds, which are indispensable for all insects. Pollen ensures the growth of the body of the young, the ability of the queen bee to lay eggs, and the successful feeding of the larvae by workers. Let discuss how do bees collect pollen and store pollen and what are factors determine the pollen collection by bees. Also, read other guides on beekeeping for beginners.
how do bees collect pollen?
In one honey collection season, a healthy bee colony produces over 30 kg of pollen. The scientist Casteel, observing the work of bees in a cornfield, thoroughly studied the collection process. Climbing onto a flowering cob, the bee crawls along it, touching the anthers filled with small pollen grains and biting through them with its jaws. At the same time, pollen grains stick to the mouth of the insect and are wetted by the excreted secret. Some of the grains stick to the hairline on the body and legs of the bee, firmly holding on to the villi.
After visiting several flowers, when enough pollen has accumulated, the bee scrapes it off from different parts of the body, placing it in the so-called baskets located at the hind legs. Thanks to the moistening of the grains with a special secret, the pollen becomes sticky, plastic and keeps well in improvised natural containers.
With its front paws, the bee collects pollen from the sternum and mouthparts. She uses her hind legs to cleanse the abdomen and compact the collected material into baskets. Quickly wielding its limbs, the insect twists sticky pollen grains into dense lumps, rolling them over the body to the hind legs.
How do bees store pollen? (Filling honeycomb)
When the mini-vessels are completely filled, the bee goes to its home, where it performs a characteristic dance, informing its neighbors about the location of the bribe. Holding the burden, the honey bee looks for a place to store the pollen, visiting the combs one after another. When a free cell is found, the insect hangs with its front paws on the top of the comb, while its hind legs stick it in. Through skillful manipulations and movements of the legs, the contents of the baskets slide off and fall directly into the cell.
The fullness of the cell does not bother the working individual in the future, since it goes for a new portion of pollen. A young intra-hive bee comes into play, which is not yet able to independently obtain food. She inspects the pollen-filled comb and grabs the clumps that were left by the honey bee.
Then he moves the lumps to the base of the comb a place where the collected material can be preserved in reserve. Breaking up the pollen with the help of paws, antennae and jaws, the insect levels the mixture, from time to time moistening the mass with a special secret. In the process of tamping, the pollen mixture becomes more pliable, dark, and moist, enriched with particles of honey or nectar.
In this way, bee bread is formed from pollen grains, which can be stored for a long time due to the processes of lactic acid fermentation that start in the mixture and protect it from spoilage.
Factors determining the collection of pollen
Studies have shown that flights of pollen collectors take less time than flights aimed at collecting nectar. But the final time spent filling both baskets depends on several factors:
- an abundance of bribes;
- the number of plants visited by the bee;
- number of flights per day;
- variety of flowers;
- air temperature;
- strength and direction of the wind;
- relative humidity, etc.
Experiments conducted by scientists showed that in order to obtain two full-fledged pollen, a honey bee had to visit 100 dandelion flowers and 84 pear flowers. At the same time, the time spent on collecting pollen ranged from 6 to 187 minutes. On average, a bee makes 10 sorties per day for pollen, but the total number of “walkers” ranges from 6 to 47. In favorable weather, about 50 thousand working individuals take part in collecting pollen every day.
In windy weather, the performance of bees is significantly weakened, and at wind speeds of more than 33 m/s, flights for pollen stop. High air humidity also negatively affects the amount of pollen delivered.
What are the most common flowers that bees visit for pollen?
Bees are attracted to many different flowers and plants for pollen. Some of the most common flowers that bees visit for pollen include:
- Aster (white, purple, pink)
- Daisy (white, yellow)
- Marigold (orange, yellow)
- Dandelion (yellow)
The beekeepers managed to find some differences in the amount of material collected by members of different bee families working on the same bribe. Representatives of productive families can simultaneously collect pollen and collect nectar. Of all insects whose body is covered with villi, the bee is able to deliver the maximum amount of pollen grains on itself.