Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Pollen procesing by bees

    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!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,571

    Default Re: Pollen procesing by bees

    The fermentation of pollen starts as soon as the bees collect it, as they innoculate it with bacteria when they put the honey in it to pack it on their pollen combs.

    The key here is the production of a necessary sterol not synthesized by the bees nor found in pollen. It is produced fairly quickly, but is found in the highest amounts, I think, in stored pollen.

    Bees always store the pollen in comb as soon as it's hauled in. They pack it into the cells and cap it with honey, which is why stored pollen is translucent. Quite pretty in the spring when lots of different colors are coming in. The pollen becomes 'bee bread' as soon as it's packed away.

    I've seen bees happily packing away protien patty crumbs, so yes, I think they do treat it much like pollen. They also consume it directly, again just like pollen. When they are raising large amounts of brood, pollen gets stored in the brood frames in an arch above the brood, and I'm sure is eaten quickly by the nurse bees. Foragers bring in more and restore the supply regularly.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Tallahassee, Florida, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Pollen procesing by bees

    That was a great answer Peter. This is what keeps me coming back to this site!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Re: Pollen procesing by bees

    I guess I am trying to make it more complicated than it is. Thank you for your answer Peter!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Pollen procesing by bees

    >Is the primary purpose of fermentation to rid the pollen of its cell walls making the nutritional content of pollen available for digestion?

    I think it's purpose is two-fold.
    1) predigesting the pollen (and generating other nutrients in the process)
    2) preserving the pollen from spoilage
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads