Protein is required by young adult honey bees, and it is an important component of the food they give to larvae. It is obtained from pollen (microspores of seed plants) that older bees collect from flowers and store in the nest. In one study on A. mellifera in the United States, bee-collected (air-dried) pollens contained 7 to 30% crude protein and 19 to 41% carbohydrates (mostly sugars from honey that bees mixed with the pollen). Pollen also contains minerals (it has an ash content of 1—6%), vitamins, enzymes, free amino acids, organic acids, flavonoids, and growth regulators.
When a worker honey bee moves past the anthers of flowers, pollen becomes trapped by her body hairs. She leaves the flowers and, with special movements of her legs, passes the pollen backward to bristles on the tibiae of her hind legs. She packs it into a "pollen load" on each of these legs, moistening it with a little nectar or honey in the process. The pollen loads carried by a foraging bee have a variety of colors, which provide clues to the plant sources.
It is relatively easy for a beekeeper to collect the pollen being brought into hives by bees: a pollen trap, fixed over the hive entrance, incorporates a grid (or two grids) through which incoming bees must push, and while they do this most pollen loads are knocked from their hind legs and drop into a tray below, although some bees get through the trap with their pollen loads. The beekeeper needs to ensure that the colony always has enough pollen to rear sufficient brood to maintain its population. (A colony can be made to collect more pollen by giving it extra combs of young brood to rear.) In 1990 pollen was known to be produced commercially in Europe (seven countries), the Americas (five), Asia (four), and Africa (one), and also Australia, where Western Australia alone produced 60 to 130 tonnes a year.
Pollen is used as a dietary supplement for humans and domestic animals, as well as for feeding to a honey bee colony to increase its brood production. Pollen from specific plant species (or cultivars) is also used for fruit pollination, in plant breeding programs, and in the study and treatment of allergic conditions such as hay fever.
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Make money with honey How to be a Beekeeper. Beekeeping can be a fascinating hobby or you can turn it into a lucrative business. The choice is yours. You need to know some basics to help you get started. The equipment needed to be a beekeeper. Where can you find the equipment you need? The best location for the hives. You can't just put bees in any spot. What needs to be considered when picking the location for your bees?