The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations FIBKA

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No Pollen – No Bees

Let’s be honest. Most beekeepers keep bees to obtain a crop of honey, and value their bees on these basics. But Nature however has other ideas. Primarily the part played by the honey bee is that of Pollinator.

Flowers attract bees by producing the sugars needed by the adult bee, and a superabundance of pollen, enough for both for pollination, and for the bees to take home for rearing their brood.

About mid-January or early February, a very slight supply can be obtained from early Willow trees (catkins). During March, Dandelions supply most of their needs. April will see some garden plants and fruit trees, visited by the bees. May and June bring in many more bee flowers.

During early and midsummer, scores of plants yield pollen, and it is during late Summer and early Autumn that the bees collect as much pollen as possible, ending with the Ivy in late Autumn.

This Ivy pollen is stored in the cells and having been capped with wax will keep until required in January at the commencement of brood rearing.

Without pollen there would eventually be no plants, trees or flowers of any kind, the role played by pollen in our lives is probably so complex that it will take man a long time to explore fully this most fascinating subject.

Intensive study of bees in many countries has proved that these energetic little creatures are unable to live without pollen, or nectar, which when ripened they store as honey.

Worker bees continually gather pollen, to preserve in the hives as bee bread. What a daily slice of bread it produces for these magnificent creatures, including the Queen who benefits from the nurse bees eating large quantities of pollen enabling them to produce the Royal Jelly to feed her.

In the hive the bee larvae live on brood food pollen and honey, and for the young bee when she first emerges pollen is a very important part of her diet.

We can now see how nature has made up this miraculous cycle, for without pollen not only would plants die off, but the bees’ doom would also be sealed.

I would like to point out that the honey bee is the one insect concerned in pollination, whose scene of activities can be controlled to some extent. It is of prime importance to any country, that in difficult years the number of colonies be maintained in an efficient state to carry out the work for which nature intended for God’s creatures.

James Power

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