Pollen and the trouble with rain

Wow, the girls are hauling in pollen by the bucket load it seems. I went to check on them yesterday afternoon, it was the first break in the rain we’ve had. Both hives were buzzing and Melissa was bringing in pollen non-stop. I watched them land and easily more than half of them had pollen sacks fully loaded. They were so full I didn’t realize they could be packed so high!

I topped the hive top feeder off a few days ago anticipating the girls would be cooped up for a few days and this would give them something to do. “Busy as a bee” is a very apt term, they are ALWAYS doing something and get testy when they can’t fly or work.

Though rain is necessary for plants to produce nectar, too much hard rain can actually wash it out of the blooms and destroy the flowers. The bees use the flowers and the nectar guides along their petals to locate the nectar. They will usually fly in light rains but not in downpours. People have even reported seeing their bees return to the hive only to have a severe thunderstorm come through later.

If it rains while they are foraging, they will wait it out under a leaf somewhere relatively dry, if the storm is longer such that they stay out overnight, they have the potential (from what I’ve read) to lose their way home. They will either die or try to join another hive. Bees at the hive investigate all who present themselves and make sure they have the right pheromones–if they don’t, they keep them from entering. BUT the guards do make exceptions if the intruder is carrying nectar or pollen 🙂

I think I’m going to start a series of educational posts: on the same day each week I’ll post something interesting about honeybees. I’ll learn something and you’ll understand why bees are so COOL!

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