Pollen to Beebread | Why?

POLLEN and BEEBREAD recently have been at the center of some surprising experimental findings about honey bee nutrition and related health, behavior, and preferences that are shaking up some long-held beliefs. In this article, we will start to unravel a few puzzling questions and bust a few myths, with assistance from Randy Oliver’s Scientific Beekeeping studies and other sources.  

A fair amount of the fresh pollen is also consumed by middle-aged workers (which, together with the nurses, are called “house bees”). Like nurse bees, these workers also make jelly from the pollen. This is an efficient method of protecting and preserving the pollen within their living bodies, and then distributing it not only to brood, but also as needed among all the adult nestmates, including foragers.4 (Photo left: house bee feeding a nestmate. Image: M. Bentley, University of Florida).

Feeding of the forager bees, which are the oldest of the colony’s workers, was demonstrated experimentally by using amino acids that were specially tagged with radioactive markers that could be precisely tracked. In the study, nurse bees fed 25% of their total pollen intake from one day specifically to foragers in the hive, overnight.

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