Beatrice’s Job: Foraging

Happy Spring! As the weather warms up, everyone in my hive becomes more active. Each of my sisters who live with me in Stephanie’s back yard has a specialized job. When I first emerged as a bee, I worked as a nurse bee. Now my job is as a forager bee; I gather pollen, nectar, resin, water and other necessities for my hive.

bee with full pollen baskets
This bee has full pollen baskets.

This early in the spring, I am particularly interested in collecting pollen. Pollen is a source of protein and it is especially important in the diet of young bees and developing larvae. Right now, my family is really growing; my mother the queen has been laying a lot of eggs! When I land on a flower blossom, little pieces of pollen stick to the fuzzy parts of my body. I use my legs to collect this pollen and push it into my pollen baskets (technically called the corbicula) which are on my hind legs.I pack as much pollen as I can into my pollen baskets before returning to my hive.

When I return to the hive, I deposit the pollen into one of our hexagon-shaped cells where some of my hive sisters will make the pollen pellet into “bee bread.” We don’t bake the bread though, we ferment it. Bee bread is very nutritious and my entire family eats it.

Plants which are blooming now and providing us with good pollen include crocus, daffodils, pansies or violas, and forsythia. We honey bees absolutely love apple blossoms for their pollen and nectar! We also really like crabapple, cherry, and plum blossoms, but apples are probably our favorite. Did you know apple trees rely on honey bees and other insects to cross-pollinate their flowers so they can produce fruit? When I am collecting the pollen, some of it naturally sticks to the stigma of the flower so that pollination occurs. Pollination is just one service my sisters and I provide!

Beatrice mentioned that she really likes these plants right now:

Apple Tree
Be Prepared for a Spring Cold Snap
NOT Canceled: Outdoor Living