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I noticed this afternoon a lot of field bees returning from foraging have a white or gray color on their backs between their head and abdomen. Not all of them, but quite a few from two different hives. Any ideas what this might be? Is it normal or do I have a problem?
Thanks.
Dave
 

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Some flowers will "pat" insects on the back with pollen while they are going for the necture. Some plants are very good at it. I'm not sure the flower sources in Tx but it seems to be what those particular hives are concentrating on.
 

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If they weren't foragers, I'd guess they were newly emerged. They often have grey there because they are fuzzier when they first emerge. But since they are foragers it's either pollen, as Bjorn says, or a color variation in the bees. I'm guessing its pollen.
 

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Thanks for the quick replys. It does look like pollen, I just didn't know it could be on their backs.
Thanks again.

Dave
 

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There are a couple of different species of dandelions in this area of Texas. One of them blooms in late winter- Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Bees seem to like this one, but there is another species that is blooming for the past 3-4 weeks which is Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus multicaulis) which they seem to really love and it will cover them with a fine powdery-looking pollen. Maybe that could be the source.
 

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BeeTexas, I think I may know what your bees have been foraging. Are any of the monarda species plants blooming in your area? I have spotted bee balm and lemon mint blooming right now, and one of the bees I saw in it today was covered with what looked like a light gray powder. I've noticed lots of it growing wild along the highways for the past week or two.
 
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