-Posted by Isaac
Bee pollen: Oh, so good!
And good for you too!
Although it would make an interesting blog post, I'm not going to filibuster about the marvelous benefits of pollen. If you are buying pollen, you probably already know.
This is a post to show how we collect it. The pollen traps finally came off today, so it's at the forefront of my mind. Looking through my phone, I was able to scrape together several good pollen images from the last two months.
Back in August, I put the pollen traps on.
It's a real pain. As you can see, the hives have to be taken all the way down, then the trap goes on top of the bottom board. It takes a day to place seventy some traps. Not a day I look forward to.
The bees don't like it much either. They'll search for any possible hole or crack to avoid going through that trap.
The first few trips around, following the placement of the traps, we plug holes. It helps to have a veil for this. (Lesson learned the hard way.)
When the bees collect flower pollen, they carry it back to the hive on their two back legs. (pollen sacs) The pollen trap has a couple screens that the bees navigate. In doing so, some of the pollen gets rubbed off and falls into a tray. This tray is then pulled out from the back of the trap.
We don't take all their pollen. A trap is not the most efficient tool. An estimated third to half the pollen still gets through. Plus, the traps are only on for about two months, August through mid-October.
Like milking the cows, pollen collection is a job that needs done every day. Or at the very least, every other in the humid climate we have in mid-Ohio. If left out there too long, it starts to mold.
Just like honey, the pollen colors and tastes change as the season rolls on. When the traps are placed in August, everything is yellow and brown from the ragweed and various clovers.
The days go by and it changes. The yellow fades out, the orange comes in-- Goldenrod!
Once the bees are used to the traps and they're happily on a honey flow, you can pretty much do the pollen route in a t-shirt.
Pretty much.... but not always.
Maizy was my pro photographer for the above shot. Everything was fine until I accidentally pinched a bee. The alarm pheromone was out! By the time I made it back to the truck, I had taken five stings. And Maizy had locked the doors.
Jayne helped with a pollen run every so often. Unlike me, she learns from past experience, and decided that this year she wasn't taking chances.
Only one person gets to wear a pearly white bee suit-- the boss.
It's takes about an hour and a half to make it through a pollen run. Some yards are back long lanes, some are behind locked gates. And if you forget the key, well...
When the goldenrod was really kicking, we could collect about a third of a bucket per bee yard.
Over two months, it really adds up.
Which is good, because a couple of the juice bars (Zest, Alchemy) are really making some big orders. Bee pollen- Oh, so metro!
And oh, so delish!