pollen analysis/melissopalynology
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default pollen analysis/melissopalynology

    I'm based in Newfoundland, Canada. I'm curious about the pollen analysis part of the British Beekeepers Association's (BBKA) microscopy syllabus. See https://archive.bbka.org.uk/learn/ex...nts/microscopy Is the level of training afforded by the Microscopy Certificate good enough to allow beekeepers to accurately identify pollen sources in their honey? How useful is the pollen analysis training to beekeepers in the U.K.?

    I note Vaugh Bryant's November 2018 article in BEE CULTURE wherein he states "Learning to analyze the pollen trapped in honey requires a broad understanding of botany and bee biology....Being able to analyze the pollen contents of honey samples requires a 'long learning curve!' This is not to say that it is impossible for a beekeeper to learn how to do this, but most of them do not have the needed scientific background, the equipment to do the extraction process, or the pollen reference collections needed to help them identify the potential thousands of pollen types they might find in their samples" (pp.42-43).

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lake Forest Park, WA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: pollen analysis/melissopalynology

    Throughout the past year I did bee-pollen microscopy, just for fun. I looked about 3500 samples, found ~80 different kinds, and named ~60 of them, some to the species and others only to the genus or to the family names. Pollen microscopy was especially interesting when neither one of cherry/plum, maple, blackberry or ivy (the plants that give the major pollen flows here) was in full bloom, because that was when I found unexpected. I found several flowers that I overlooked, only after the bees brought their pollens. Some bee-pollens were very unique in shapes and/or colors, yet could not be named, even after I hand-collected pollen from ~500 different flowers in the neighborhood to compare with.

    I pick pollen from a dead forager's hind legs or from a corrugated plastic board inserted into the hive bottom (or under the screen bottom) onto a slide glass (bought at Amazon.com), put a drop of glycerin (bought at a drugstore), press a coverglass onto, and immediately take pictures. After that I wash the glasses with warm water and reuse. No fixing or staining. Because pollen sizes are pretty much in the range of 10 - 100 micrometers, I use one of the cheapest digital microscopes with fixed 800x optical magnification (about US $90 at Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-Inve.../dp/B072N96D24) connected to my laptop. It takes some practice to get good pictures but you probably do not need a special training to do this. When it comes to identifying your bee-pollen, however, you have to compare it with flower pollen pictures that were prepared exactly in the same manner. The majority found on the web (such as ‘pollenwiki’ https://pollen.tstebler.ch/MediaWiki...le=Pollenatlas) use some fixing/staining reagents. Therefore, you should either prepare your bee-pollen using their method or prepare your reference flower pollen samples yourself (I chose to do the latter).

    This link shows some of my bee pollen pictures, 800x. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nz2FEUwXMVohtq3W6
    1. hazelnut, heath, size standard
    2. crocus, cherry/plum, hyacinth
    3. dandelion, red/silver maple, size standard
    4. camellia, willow, rhododendron
    5. holly, red osier dogwood, size standard
    6. horse chestnut, tulip poplar, poppy
    7. birdsfoot trefoil, southern magnolia, linden

    Have fun!
    Zone 8, elevation 70 ft, near the north end of Lake Washington

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: pollen analysis/melissopalynology

    Thanks for your reply Kuro. Interesting!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,563

    Default Re: pollen analysis/melissopalynology

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Armitage View Post
    How useful is the pollen analysis training to beekeepers in the U.K.?
    It isn't. Indeed, I've never seen much point in beekeepers identifying pollen sources - other than for curiosity (or fun) - as they can't actually do anything practical with such superficial information. With regard to the BBKA, I suspect this is just so much 'content padding' to justify having a certificate in something-or-other.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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