Sunday 16 November 2014

Pollen supplements and pollen traps.

Next time you buy or think of buying pollen for your "health" this is the true cost to the bees of pollen production.

Pollen is required by honey bees principally as a protein source to feed their larvae and maintain the colony population. As most people will be aware honey bees collect the pollen from flowers and transport it back to the hive using special hairy receptacles on their hind legs called corbiculae. It's an extremely energy intensive activity and efficiency is paramount in making sure that other colony activities aren’t diminished.   

Pollen trapping is dependent on the use of a screen or perforated metal grid of about 5-mesh per inch through which the pollen-collecting field bees are forced to enter the colony and this grid forcibly removes the pollen from their legs. This grid is used with a pellet collection container that is covered by 7- or 8-mesh screen to prevent bee entry. This basic principle is common to all pollen traps.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Of course what this means in practice is that the colony is starved of pollen and more and more bees will be diverted from other duties to pollen collection in an attempt to feed the colonies brood. What makes this situation even worse in recent years is that the bees are increasingly fed artificial pollen using soya flour made into patties via the top of the hive a practice that I consider to be total folly. It’s quite clear, (and there are studies to prove it), that healthy bees require a variety of natural pollens in exactly the same way that we require a balanced variety of healthy foods.

Unlike honey which is produced and stored in bulk long term by the bees pollen is foraged according to colony requirements and rarely stored for any length of time.

You will have guessed by now that I don’t like pollen traps or anything else for that matter that treats our honey bees like industrial machines to satisfy our ever-increasing thoughtless demands so please spare a thought for Honey bees.