Let’s start with pollen…

Before I became a beekeeper, pollen was a dirty word in more ways than one. I usually thought of it as the powdery yellow stuff that not only got all over things, but worse makes my nose get all stuffy and sometimes even gives me headaches. If you have allergies, you may feel the same way. Fortunately for bees, it’s so much more than that.

Pollen comes in so many colors it’s quite amazing. In only my first season I have seen the bees bring in pollen in shades of white, yellow, orange, brown, and blue. As they store it in frames, at they look like a dotted rainbow. Below is an example of a frame packed with pollen. Notice how each cell has its own shade.

Frame of pollen

More importantly than it’s many colors, pollen is a hone bee’s only source of protein. If that surprises you, you aren’t alone. I never even really thought of plants as having protein. After all protein comes from meat right? But wait, there’s more! Pollen is the most amazing 100% natural super food. It is roughly 25% protein and contains all 22 essential amino acids along with essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, D, E and C.

So what is pollination?

Pollination is simply the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Pollination is usually the unintended consequence of bees activity on a flower. Bees often collecting pollen or they are sipping nectar from the flower when pollen grains attach themselves to the bee’s body. Then when the bees visit another flower for the same reason, pollen can fall off onto the flower’s stigma and may result in successful reproduction of the flower. By providing pollen and nectar to bees and other pollinators, flowers ensure their own survival and ours!