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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Stone County Ar. USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    I was taught in the beekeeping class that a hive will only work one <kind of> plant at a time , then move on to something else . That would imply that the pollen would all be the same color , right ? Well , the dog and I were out watching the foragers land a little bit ago , and we saw three different colors of pollen on the ladies coming in , which sorta indicates more than one plant is being foraged . Apparently I'm lucky to have the creek that runs through my land , as it encourages wild flowers and other bee-friendly plants . And there is a lot of stuff blooming for this time of year , I can see at least 3 kinds from the bathroom window <we live in a clearing out in the woods - really!> . My biggest concern right now is the hive getting strong enough to survive this winter , I'm just now adding a super to the hive . We've only had the girls since mid-June <abt 7 weeks> and they've made tremendous gains in both number of bees and amount of honey stored , but ... call it newby jitters , but I'm really invested in seeing this work . My eventual goal is to have 5-8 hives , which should make enough to be self-supporting if not profitable . But for now , this hive making it through the winter and being in shape to split next spring will be enough .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,566

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    Any bee will work only one type of plant at a time, and all the bees that bee recruits to forage will work that single type. However, different groups of bees will work different sources at the same time, so yes, it's not uncommon to see several colors of pollen at the same time on the landing board.

    I have a great time watching my bees when I get a chance.

    You will likely need quite a bit of honey for the winter -- what are your winter temperatures like?

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    986

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry C View Post
    I was taught in the beekeeping class that a hive will only work one <kind of> plant at a time
    This is sort of half correct. A colony will optimize its foraging along a sweetness, abundance, and distance gradient by individual recruitment.
    This means at any one time the foragers are voting for a particular solution.

    A practical example of this is Avocado pollination in my region. Avocado has a "new world" nectar, which means it is nearly pure sucrose and an indigetible 7 carbon carbohydrate. Given their freedom bees will forage for Salvia in the hills surrounding the Avocado orchards, Salvia has a high fructose nectar, so tastes much sweeter than the sucrose version. Pushing the drops deep into the orchards changes the Time vs. Money calculation of the miserly bees and they spend more time in the not so favorite Avocado.

    Bees are constantly exploring for new sources, and one with the correct "sweet spot" of proximity, concentration and nectar volume will recruit more foragers.

    Foragers are recruited to locations. If you paint mark a bee trained to visit a feeding station, and then remove the station, you will see the marked bee transfer its alliegance to the closest nectar flower. I've done this repeatedly with a tripartite -- station, milkweed -- tomato sequence (the flowers are in pots and can be moved in and out of the observation range).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Stone County Ar. USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post

    You will likely need quite a bit of honey for the winter -- what are your winter temperatures like?

    Peter
    Last winter we had temps near zero in late Dec-early Jan , but that was said to be unusual - I've had land here for years , but just moved up about 18 mo ago . We're on the southern Ozark Plateau , in north central Arkansas . It usually gets cold in late Nov or early Dec , sub-freezing weather is intermittent until late Jan thru early March . Stuff starts blooming usually in mid-march , and continues for I don't really know how long . Watching the girls , 90% seem to come in loaded with pollen early in the day , slacks off as it warms up , then picks up slightly in the late afternoon . As of yesterday they had every frame in the lower <deep> super drawn and much of it has capped honey . I don't disturb the ladies any more than I feel necessary , average once weekly , but the end frame I pulled was loaded and heavy with honey . Others appeared similarly full . Last time I looked , there was brood in all stages and eggs - that was about a 10 days ago - and there are lots of bees on all the frames . They're crawling around on the new foundation in the super , and have chewed a hole in one central frame , but haven't started drawing comb .
    I'm cautiously optimistic ...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,729

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    >I was taught in the beekeeping class that a hive will only work one <kind of> plant at a time , then move on to something else . That would imply that the pollen would all be the same color , right ? Well , the dog and I were out watching the foragers land a little bit ago , and we saw three different colors of pollen on the ladies coming in , which sorta indicates more than one plant is being foraged .

    And that is the problem with generalizations. The bees don't read the books. But it's kind of true that they tend to be loyal to what they are working until it runs out and they start looking for something else. I think they purposely look for a variety of pollen, though.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Stone County Ar. USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >I was taught in the beekeeping class that a hive will only work one <kind of> plant at a time , then move on to something else . That would imply that the pollen would all be the same color , right ? Well , the dog and I were out watching the foragers land a little bit ago , and we saw three different colors of pollen on the ladies coming in , which sorta indicates more than one plant is being foraged .

    And that is the problem with generalizations. The bees don't read the books. But it's kind of true that they tend to be loyal to what they are working until it runs out and they start looking for something else. I think they purposely look for a variety of pollen, though.
    Luckily for me , there's a very experienced beekeeper that goes by arbeekeeper that reads this forum and lives close to me and has offered to help me . We talked yesterday , he has invited me out to his place to look at/in his hives and help me understand what I'm seeing and what I should be looking for .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Kinder, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    194

    Default Re: Pollen colors & Newby Ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry C View Post
    Luckily for me , there's a very experienced beekeeper that goes by arbeekeeper that reads this forum and lives close to me and has offered to help me . We talked yesterday , he has invited me out to his place to look at/in his hives and help me understand what I'm seeing and what I should be looking for .
    Awesome! That's worth more than a year spent on these forums. Not saying the forums are bad, just no substitute for local experience.

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