|LOWER RIGHT CORNER OF THIS FRAME:
|YELLOW BEE POLLEN IS STORED IN CELLS BY BEES
What is it? What does it do for us?
bees in the spring have much to do in this area. As long as the weather permits, each bee will bring in much nectar
and pollen from flowering plants.
Bee pollen is loaded
with many vitamins and nutrients and is excellent for human consumption. Interestingly enough, there are
very few people who are allergic to this wonderful "gift" of honey bees. It can cause the same
reaction as allergies do. It is best to try a little before purchasing.
We allow that to happen and don't charge a cent. In fact, I encourage tasting of our bee pollen before a person
decides to purchase.
There are two methods for
"finishing" the bee pollen we harvest from the hive. One, is to simply harvest the pollen and then place it
in the freezer to store. Fresh, hydrated bee pollen is extremely perishable. It is very important
that it remain refrigerated for freshness.
Another method we have recently
discovered is to dehydrate the bee pollen once it is harvested. This method takes a little more time, but,
the benefits of dehydrated bee pollen is that it does not require any refrigeration. You can "take it on
the go" when you go on a vacation and when refrigeration is impossible. Another benefit, we believe, is that
the process of dehydration seems to make the bee pollen more concentrated. We believe that a little goes a long
Whether you prefer hydrated or dehydrated bee pollen, the end result is the same:
you feel more energized, alive, and generally feel good all day long. It also seems to help those
who suffer with allergies in the area it is harvested. It definitely is nature's most perfect "vitamin
and mineral" supplement.
In our area
of Santa Cruz county, if you take bee pollen that was gathered by honey bees here, you should notice a difference in your
allergic symptoms. Many claim their allergies are not as severe. Some claim they don't suffer
allergies any more!
The bottom-line is that, as with any holistic approach to health, it
definitely affects each individual in a different way. It is for this reason that I believe one should taste
and try. If it doesn't seem to work for someone, I encourage him/her to return the remaining bee pollen for it
would be a crying shame to waste such a precious commodity!
HOW WE COLLECT OUR BEE POLLEN:
Since 2010, we have modified
our traps to go under the brood box, on the bottom board. The bee pollen remains cleaner and the bees do not
need to re-learn a new entrance!
This funny looking thing is called a "Pollen Trap". Pollen
traps differ, however, they all basically do the same thing:
They "trap" bee pollen. Some have drawers on the side instead
of in the front. Personally, I really like the "side" drawer model, because it's much easier to access the drawer when
emptying it of the bee pollen. Also, if it rains, any pollen that might be in a "Side Drawer" model won't get wet.
Our traps need to be checked and emptied daily.
As you can see, it has a drawer that slides in and out.
The drawer has a wire bottom. This allows air to circulate around
the trapped bee pollen. Just above the drawer is the entrance where the honey bees will enter their hive instead of
using the usual bottom entrance. It generally takes almost 2 weeks to "train" the worker bees to exit a new way.
Once newly-born workers emerge, they automatically use the new entrance without a hitch because they don't know any other
way. The older workers are the ones that insist on wanting to use the bottom entrance.
One thing is for sure: You cannot teach an old bee new tricks!
It is so important to choose a hive that is strong: has plenty of
worker bees and a great and wonderful queen. The hive on the left is a strong hive, therefore, the pollen trap was placed
atop the brood box OVER the queen excluder.
The usual bottom entrance is closed off. This forces the worker
bees to enter and exit the hive via the pollen trap entrance. When the worker bees bring back some pollen to feed the
brood, for storage and for the queen, they enter the pollen trap and as they make their way down to the Brood Box, SOME pollen
drops from their legs into the drawer of the pollen trap.
This is what the top of the pollen trap looks like. You can
see "grids" of wire at the front part which is where the entrance is located. It has just enough space for the worker
bee to squeeze through in order to access the brood box. As she makes her way down to the bottom, her legs, of course,
must go with her! As she makes her way down, about 1/3 of the pollen on her legs fall off and into the drawer of the
A "Honey Super" is placed on top of the pollen trap. In the
previous picture, you can see that the trap has a space behind the grid of wires. This allows the worker bees, once
they work their way through the "grids of wire" of the pollen trap, to access the brood box below or go up to the honey
super(s) to deposit pollen and nectar.
Another honey super is placed on top of the first. In early
spring, especially if it looks to be a fantastic season, adding another super is essential. The hive is strong
enough to bring in plenty of bee pollen for all to enjoy, including lots of nectar. It is important to know that
honey bees have been bred to produce much more than they can use, especially when it comes to honey production.
Once the trap is placed, it usually takes a day or two for the drawer of the trap
to fill. Since bee pollen is extremely perishable, it is vital to "collect" the bee pollen every single day.
It is essential that it be collected in early morning BEFORE the bees start flying or late in the day, AFTER they are back
in their hive to rest for the night. You will see that we have not closed up the bottom entrance yet, however,
it was done late in the day after the bees were in their hive for the night. By morning, the older bees have a
heck of a time figuring out how to leave their hive, but soon they do find the way.
Springtime is the best time for collecting bee pollen,
hands down ~
Or should I say, "hand up"! I am holding this honey bee in my hand and she is just
resting, soon to get to her hive to take her "cargo" of pollen and deposit it inside a cell. In the spring, our bees are happy and so content. Everything seems to be just fine and dandy. We see several workers
with pollen practically falling off their little legs.
Ah Nature, isn't it wonderful?
In the beginning, there isn't much pollen to harvest. As the workers enter the pollen trap entrance, some pollen
falls from their legs as they work their way either up to the honey super or down to the brood box.
All pollen traps are designed not to take more bee pollen than necessary. Afterall, how ridiculous would that be
if a beekeeper took all the nutrients from his own bees?
We always take care of our bees first and foremost before taking anything for ourselves.
Every morning, before the bees even think to begin their flights, we go out and open each drawer, remove it and pour
the bee pollen into a plastic bucket. It is immediately taken to the freezer for storage.
It is so important that once you notice 75% of the workers entering the pollen trap entrance, that the entrance below
is slightly opened.
This allows the workers to clean out debris from the brood box.
Remember: worker bees are cleaning machines, among other tasks they accomplish, of course.
If the bottom brood entrance is kept closed off, they have a terrible time keeping house and home nice and clean.
Much of the chewed up "junk" ends up in the pollen trap drawer itself amongst all the bee pollen. When that happens,
we have to "clean" the pollen using a seed cleaning machine.
This is a whole 'nuther story' and since we keep track of those hives with traps on them, it is unnecessary to use this
machine. At one time, we had quite a few traps going. It was hard to keep track of because we had
many colonies at the time: about 800!
"Now-adays", we are able to keep track of the few traps we place and it is much easier to manage each hive so that the
pollen stays clean and free of "bee debris".
After about a week, the bees are going in and out of the bee pollen trap entrance and the bees at the bottom are keeping
their home nice and clean! Every once in awhile, it is necessary to close off the bottom entrance because you
do not want all the workers to use it instead of the trap's entrance. You have to re-train the older ones and
train the "new-bees". As you might guess, if all of the bees stop using the trap's entrance, then no bee
pollen can be trapped and harvested.
Important also is to make certain the hive is still as viable as the day the trap was placed. Most "seasoned"
beekeepers know instinctively if a hive is no longer "doing it's job" without "pulling it apart" to look.
When our pollen traps are in place and have been on the bees for over a month, we always hope that the hive will stay
well and keep producing until it's time to remove them.
It's just another day in the life of a beekeeper.