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Thread: Pollen Traps

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Pollen Traps

    This is my first year as a beekeeper and I have a question about pollen traps. I've been looking into collecting pollen and wanted to find out if it is worth the investment and time to collect pollen? Also, after the pollen is collected, how do you clean it of debris?

    Thanks for any input

  2. #2
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Pollen collecting is not for everyone. The quantity and quality of what you collect are really determined by your location. When I did it, honey production was really knocked in the head. Cleaning it is laborious. Cleaners exist but I have no experience with them personally. I cleaned it by hand with a tweezer and had old bottom mount traps that collected all the debris in the hive. The top traps help with that a lot, but there are still ants and such that have to be dealt with. I would also highly recommend you have a market for it before you produce it. I ended up feeding a thousand pounds of pollen to my brotherinlaws sheep one summer right before the traps went into storage where they are now rotten past reclaimation. My purchase of them was my single most disastrous business equipment purchase. This was my experience, you may have an entirely different one, Beekeeping is all local.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Thanks for the input Vance. Since this is still new to me, I'm trying to put my couple of dollars in the right place instead of spending on things that aren't really going to help.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2007
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    Ravenna, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    We collected about 25 lbs of pollen off one hive from our Sundance I bottom trap this summer (we only did one). We sold it in 8 oz. honey weight classics (=4 oz. pollen weight) for $9 each. That's $900 from one hive. Easier than honey = higher profit. We are now sold out of pollen. No question about doing it. It's in high demand and you can cultivate customers for local pollen--there's also less competition.
    Last edited by blueskybeesupply; 12-18-2012 at 12:41 PM.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    My experience is very similar to bluesky. Much more demand than supply. Word of mouth spreads.

    Steve

  6. #6
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    Dec 2007
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    I will add that pollen is one item you want to build up a supply of BEFORE you have customers, as you will run out (if done on a modest scale, like 1-2 traps). We found it very easy to clean, after collecting from the hive, by putting Tupperware flats of it in an extra freezer. Once cleaned, we bottled it all and stored in the freezer. Again, we were sold out within 6 months of what we produced. For our market needs, we should have run 3 traps. And like all things, the demand will grow as you develop customers.

    Also, make sure to leave the trap on in continuous "collect" mode. It takes a few weeks for the bees to be trained. Once trained, they can easily bring in 1/2 pound or so a day. Do not give in to the belief that you need to "open" and "close" the trap often, as it will confuse the bees and inhibit production. Don't worry about the bees not getting enough pollen to the brood. The reduced pollen intake, pushes them to collect more and they will get what they need. The hive we collected from is still thriving as of a few days ago and produced about 40 lbs of surplus during the season.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    That's interesting bluesky!!! How do you remove contaminants such has mites, trash, etc.?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Ravenna, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    We don't have mites . . . Har-dee-har-har

    Well, when the pollen is frozen, it's almost like "space ice-cream" and it can be blown lightly with a small fan, leaving all of the larger pollen and minimal debris is blown off. I say minimal because 99% of mites fall through the screen of the Sundance I collection tray, so not an issue. You are mostly concerned about a few bee parts, which are visible--often a wing or two in the collection and are easily removed. The Sundance traps do not permit "hive trash" to build up in the tray, due to their construction--and again, the screens help filter. The Top Mount (Sundance II) will yield the cleanest pollen.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Boston, MA
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Bluesky,

    When do you add the traps? After the main flow? During the dearth? Or do you keep them on year-round?

    Thanks,
    Tony P.
    There must be a harder way to do that... let me find it for you.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Ravenna, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    We add the trap after our spring honey flow has gotten a chance to run a good bit. This allows the bees to begin building up honey stores and pollen for bee bread for brood, to make sure we have a good field force before collecting pollen. So, let's say we put on the trap early/mid June in our area. We leave it on continuous "on/collect" for most of the summer. We then have the trap on until mid/end of August, after which we remove it to allow the stores (pollen/honey) to be "re-calibrated" by the bees in the brood nest. We can then treat as needed before fall and allow the bees to gather a fall surplus. This is my recommendation for having a healthy hive going into and out of collecting and not being too greedy.

    You can leave the trap on year round, with the collection setting to "off." However, we prefer to remove them as it will keep the trap in better shape/cleaner.
    Last edited by blueskybeesupply; 12-18-2012 at 02:22 PM.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  11. #11
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    Feb 2009
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    In contrast to Bluesky's approach I trap on one day and off one day. Admittedly the bees are a bit confused (and it hampers their efficency) but they always locate the lower entrance. As far as cleanup is concerned I spread the pollen pellets out on a piece of paper or a cookie sheet under a good light and remove debris with the point of a knife. Have considered the use of a low velocity fan to remove bee wings and legs but not yet done that. Have never seen a VM so as bluesky indicates they must fall through the screen. My VM count isvery low anyway.

    There is a market for the local pollen so I would encourage you to give it a try. I also use the Sundance bottom mount pollen trap with a drawer like bluesky because I think it is the best designed and most efficent pollen trap on the market. Expensive, yes, but if it pays for itself in the first year you've fot a winner.

    Steve

  12. #12
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    Dec 2007
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    Ravenna, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Of note, it's so interesting to see the pollen change color from week to week as the bees begin working new blooms.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    winston salem, nc usa
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Thanks for the info guys. I think I'll give this a shot. I've noticed that a number of beekeepers wait till the Fall before they collect. Does this sound about right?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default Re: Pollen Traps

    Bluescorpion,

    My experiences have been that people with allergies want pollen "right now". I start collecting after the bees are actively foraging, but only collect every other day.

    Steve

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