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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Pollen Basket on the Bee

Feeding Topsy was my mission the other day and I was pleased to find the bees falling all over each other trying to bring pollen into the hive. We have lots of aster - goldenrod and other varieties - blooming right now in Atlanta and these bees are taking full advantage of it.

The bees are crowding each other trying to enter the top bar hive in the photo below.



Although it is called the pollen basket, the bees don't actually have a basket on their rear legs. Instead it's a depressed area called the corbicula on the bee's hind leg. Before she heads for home, while still on the flower, the bee uses her forelegs to clean the pollen from her head and thorax. While she flies home to the hive, she passes the pollen from her forelegs and the back of her thorax to her middle legs.

Then (still in flight) she passes the pollen to the basitarsus of her hind leg. In reading Winston (p. 23 -  25), I don't quite understand the next step but it sounds like she scrapes the pollen comb of her opposite hind leg across the pollen comb of the other leg, moving the pollen to the corbicula, or pollen basket.

She does all of this in flight - no wonder the old saying is "Busy as a bee." The bee is working hard enough to fly home, but in addition she is moving pollen the while.



Because the pollen basket is an area rather than a basket, you can see on these bees that the pollen is packed in many different shapes coming into the hive.



At first in order to keep the bees calm as I opened the bars where the food is kept, I draped the hive with this red dishtowel.  It's good that bees can't actually see red, or they would have been madder than they actually were.

I looked over at the area of the hive entrance while I was putting in the food and bees were buzzing and collecting in large numbers in front of the red towel covering their entrance.  I had blocked them from coming into the hive!  As soon as I realized I had done this, I folded back the towel and everyone was happy again.
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1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Thank you for sharing. We took a picture of a bee with what we initially thought were some "crazy orange growths!" When we got home, I researched and discovered the term "pollen basket," and fortunately found this page, as well! Thank!

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