A Pollen Brush from a Honeybee
This Can You Guess It?? photo is featured in the
March 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter (Page 12 - 230KB Printer-friendly file)

The legs of a honeybee are far more than simply structures to walk on.

Bees collect pollen using a structure on their legs called a “pollen brush” which is used to scrape pollen from the hairs on other parts of their body.

The collected pollen is packed into a structure called a “pollen basket”, a concave structure on their hind legs. The worker bee manipulates the pollen by brushing herself in the brief interval between traveling from one flower to another.

Honey bees - Can you see the Pollen Brush?

Bees are also unique because their bodies are covered with feather-like hairs. Pollen, which is often sticky, gets trapped in the hairs as bees reach deep into the flower for nectar. Pollination occurs when bees transfer pollen from one plant another.

Plants produce much more pollen than just what is needed for pollination. It is a reward for the bees that pollinate the flowers because honey bees rely on pollen as an important food resource. Nectar is used as energy to power flight and other activities, but protein, fats, vitamins and minerals are needed by larval bees to build muscles and organs. Pollen provides these other important nutrients.

In the hive, bees mix the pollen with honey and place it into cells. After a couple weeks, it is preserved and called “bee bread” and fed to larval bees. Bee bread contains about 20% proteins, 24-35% carbohydrates, 3% lipids and 3% minerals and vitamins.

You can learn how to become a beekeeper at the 2004 Beginning Beekeeping Workshop

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