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Everyone knows that you can harvest honey from beehives, but did you know that you can harvest pollen as well?  Pollen is a valuable commodity in the health industry, as many people take it as a dietary supplement. Beekeepers collect pollen by using pollen traps for beehives.  

What is Pollen?

Pollen is a fine powder that is produced by male plants.  This powder contains the male reproductive cells of flowering plants.  To reproduce, the pollen must move from the stamen of the male plant to the pistil of the female plant. Some plants are self pollinating and can do this on their own.  Others require pollination from the wind, birds, and insects.  

When bees collect and pack pollen it is referred to as bee pollen.  Pollen contains sugars, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.  It is a primary food source for bee colonies.  

Nurse bees eat pollen in order to absorb the nutrients and secrete royal jelly to feed larvae and the queen.  Bees also mix pollen with saliva and honey, and store them in cells.  At this point the pollen is called bee bread.  

Beekeepers use pollen traps for beehives to harvest pollen.  People also ingest bee pollen as a health supplement.  One tablespoon of bee pollen contains:

  • 16 calories
  • 1.2 grams of protein
  • 2.18 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.24 grams of fat
  • 250 types of various nutrients

How do Bees Get Pollen?

A strong bee colony can collect 100 pounds of pollen in one season.  Bees get pollen when they go out foraging.  Foraging bees are on the lookout for pollen, nectar, and water.  They usually collect one resource at a time, but some ambitious bees will collect more.  A bee can carry half of her body weight in pollen. 

When a bee lands on a flower, pollen gets knocked from the flower’s anthers and gets stuck to the hair on the bee’s body. The bee then uses her legs to wipe the pollen down to her hind legs.  

When bees collect pollen they store it on the back of their hind legs.  This is called the corbicula, or pollen basket. The pollen gets combed, pressed, and compacted before being stuck on the hairy corbicula.  The bee then returns to her hive and places the pollen into an open cell. 

Uses for Pollen

While pollen is a main food source for bees, humans also ingest pollen as a health supplement.  In fact, the German Federal Board of Health even recognizes bee pollen as a medicine.  The benefits of bee pollen include:

  • Boost liver health
  • Use as an antioxidant
  • Relieve inflammation
  • Reduce stress
  • Faster healing
  • Strengthen the immune system

Bee pollen is also used as a dietary supplement for the following conditions:

  • Allergies
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Osteoporosis
  • High cholesterol
  • Arthritis

Bee pollen is sold in granules.  Adults starting to take pollen should start with ¼ a teaspoon daily, and gradually increase to up to 2 tablespoons a day.  Children should take just a few granules of pollen daily.  

It is important to look out for any adverse reactions to bee pollen.  If you notice any itching, swelling, or shortness of breath, you should cease taking pollen, as you may have an allergy.

Pollen can be ingested as is, or mixed with food.  People enjoy sprinkling pollen onto their yogurt and oatmeal or mixed into smoothies and shakes. 

Beekeepers also use pollen traps for beehives to collect pollen as a reserve to feed their bees at a later time.  Collected pollen can be mixed with soybean flour or brewer’s yeast to make pollen patties.  These patties can be placed on the frames for the bees to eat.  

What are Pollen Traps for Beehives?

Beekeepers who wish to harvest pollen use pollen traps for beehives.  Pollen traps are made from wood or plastic. A pollen trap is placed over the entrance of a beehive. It has holes in it for the bees to enter through.  As the bee enters the hive, the holes will make some pollen fall from it’s legs and fall into the collection tray below. 

Pollen traps need a lot of attention.  Beekeepers need to check on their traps daily to ensure the pollen stays dry.  If it gets wet, pollen will mold quickly.  To maintain its quality, pollen must be frozen or dried immediately.  Beekeepers must also be gentle when handling pollen, as it is very fragile.  

Pollen traps for beehives should only be used on strong colonies.  Weaker colonies cannot afford to lose pollen as they need it to raise brood.  It is also important to only use pollen traps during a heavy pollen flow and to remove the trap after a few weeks.  When pollen is scarce it should all be left for the bees.  

Recommended Pollen Traps for Beehives

The HunterBee Pollen Trap is a simple and effective trap made for a 10 frame beehive.  

The GOGLOW Pollen Trap is made of high quality plastic and includes a ventilated pollen tray.   

 

Summary

Bees collect pollen when they visit flowering plants. Pollen traps for beehives catch pollen that falls off of the bee’s legs when they enter the hive.  Bee pollen is used to make pollen patties and as a dietary supplement.  

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