I'm trying to wrap my head around pollen processing by bees and would appreciate answers/explanations/enlightenment!
My understandings are:
Foragers "inoculate" the pollen they collect with nectar from their honey stomach, starting the fermentation process. (Honey Bee Health: The Potential Role of Microbes, DeGrandi-Hoffman, Eckholm & Anderson)
The fermentation process continues as workers convert collected pollen into bee bread.
Consuming bee bread provides primarily young worker bees (up to about 2 weeks in age) with the protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals they need for proper development. (Hive and the Honey Bee, Chapter 6)
Some pollens are better than others at providing all the nutrients bees need. (like pollen from that wonderful harbinger of spring, Dandelions, is not all that complete)
So my questions are:
How long does it take pollen brought in by foragers to be nutritionally usable?
If I have a frame of stored pollen, is it bee bread or pollen the bees will convert to bee bread when they need it?
Is the primary purpose of fermentation to rid the pollen of its cell walls making the nutritional content of pollen available for digestion?
Do pollen substitutes/supplements need to be converted to bee bread before the bees can nutritionally use them?
Thanks! - I'm sure there are lots more questions I haven't thought of yet!