For most of us, the word "pollen" is synonymous with allergies. However, pollen is primarily one of the elements in the reproduction of flowering plants and is also the main food of bee larvae. The role of pollen is therefore essential in the hive. Let's enter the colony to learn a little more...
Uses of pollen in the hive
Throughout the summer, it is fairly easy to observe bees returning to the hive with their legs laden with small balls of pollen. But what is the purpose of this harvest? What is the role of pollen in the colony?
First of all, pollen is the basis for the reproduction of plants (the "sperm" of the flowers). Pollen is also a "pantry" for many species of insects, including bees, which harvest it in abundance. Called "the bread of bees", it is their main source of protein. It is especially important for brood. Pollen is the only food for the larvae (while adult bees also feed on nectar and honeydew). Pollen is the only food for the larvae (while the adult bees also feed on nectar and honeydew).
How do the bees collect it?
The foragers are responsible for supplying the hive with food. When they fly away, they collect either nectar or pollen.
In the case of pollen, they make flights of flowers in bloom (more than 300 per exit) and accumulate small grains on their bodies (which stick to their hairs). During an outing, a bee will collect pollen from a single species of flower. During the flight phases, it collects the pollen grains using small brushes from one of its pair of legs. Then, they clump it together by making balls which they hang on the "baskets" of their hind legs (10 to 30 mg).
Back in the hive, the foragers discharge their "pollen panties" into the cells near the brood. Since pollen is available in all colours and each bee has visited different flowers, the frames can become multicoloured during peak flowering periods.