Essential for honey bee colonies
Pollen is essential for the good nutrition of a honey bee colony, to the point where a pollen shortage can affect the immune systems of both individual bees and the whole colony. Pollen provides the colony with protein, lipids (fats), minerals and vitamin needs. It is used by the colony mainly in the production of food for rearing brood, therefore consumed by young bees, who also gain benefits. Pollen that isn't used immediately is converted into bee bread, then has a covering of honey and sealed for future use.
Different pollen sources have different nutritive values, which is why pollen from many sources is better for the colony than from a single source. When using pollen traps, I have seen different colonies in the same apiary on the same day collect very different types of pollen. Unlike nectar, where a bee is loyal to the same type of flowers, pollen foragers will collect pollen from different plants on the same trip, which can often be seen by returning bees having "stripy" pollen pellets.
There have been many studies that have shown that pollen can contain chemical residues from many substances.
With a bit of searching authoritative online sources, you can find sound information. I have some that can be accessed on the top left buttons. The Bee Pollen Book is a well-written document that can be downloaded as a pdf.
Page created 26/12/2014