Tag Archives: pollen

Buyer Beware

This article from Food Safety News have been making the rounds over the past few days, and has some concerning information for folks buying honey. Nearly 75% of honey sold in stores have been heated and filtered to a point where all the pollen has been removed. In fact, if the bottle says it has been ultra-filtered, the USDA doesn’t even consider it to be honey anymore.

Pollen in honey is like a human fingerprint. It allows analysis to determine the region where the honey was produced which is an important tool used to help stop the import of foreign honey produced using questionable practices.

So make friends with your friendly neighborhood beekeeper or buy locally produced honey at a farmer’s market. What you’ll be tasting is a honey unique to your city or town.


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Close Encounters of the Bee Kind

We got some really nice macro shots of Ramona’s hive today. For some reason, Ramona’s hive loves pollen more than I ever found in Marge’s hive. She seriously has several frames full of the stuff. It is very colorful, and I would love to know the source of all the different colors.

Pollen in Frames

Here is a nice shot of some capped brood with not one, but two “newbees” emerging!

Brood with two new bees emerging

Since I have been neglecting Marge’s hive in my recent posts, we will most likely be doing a honey harvest from her hive next weekend. Even with the drought, she is kicking ass and making honey. We now have almost 3 supers full of the stuff so we will be taking one off next week so I don’t have to get on a ladder to inspect her hive.

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Ramona likes to mix it up

Now that I have two hives, it is interesting to see how each one has its own personality and quirks. Like most first borns, Marge is very organized and responsible. Most of her frames were dedicated to one purpose be it brood, honey, or pollen. As the second born, Ramona is more of a free spirit and not so orderly. Take the frame below which is a combination of pollen, brood and honey.

Frame of Pollen, Brood, and Honey

Frame of Pollen, Brood, and Honey

A good majority of her frames are like this although she does have 2-3 dedicated completely to brood. If she didn’t have those, I’d be a little worried of having a queen that didn’t lay well, but the hive appears to be growing albeit more slowly than I would like.


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Latest Honey Pollen Analysis

I got the results back from my latest pollen analysis, and it was much different from the first batch of honey I sent last year.

The honey you submitted contains a large variety of pollen types many of which occur in very small amounts, suggesting that those floral sources were important but minor nectar contributors to the honey.  The pollen concentration value of 99,250 pollen grains/10 grams of honey is high but is within the honey placed in Category II, which is the category generally attributed to most unifloral and mixed floral honey produced throughout the world. 

The relative pollen count of this sample is dominated by various members of the rose family (ROSACEAE), and elm (Ulmus).  Other significant nectar sources include blackberries (Rubus), and members of the buttercup family (RANUNCULACEAE) that include a number of different genera including Clematis.  Some of the other minor pollen types, and by inference some of the nectar sources, include Texas persimmon, honeysuckle, crepe-myrtle, wild plum, and sunflowers.  Overall, your honey is classified as a Multifloral Wildflower Honey.

Pollen Taxa


ASTERACEAE (ragweed-type)  


ASTERACEAE (sunflower-type)


BRASSICACEAE (mustard family)


Clematis (clematis)


Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)


Fraxinus (ash)


Lagerstroemia (crepe-myrtle)


LILIACEAE (lily family)


Liquidambar (sweetgum)


Lonicera (honeysuckle)


Melilotus (clover)


Prunus (plum, peach, cherry)


Quercus (oak)


RANUNCULACEAE (buttercups)


ROSACEAE (rose family)


Rubus (blackberry, dewberry)


Salix (willow)


Sambucus (elderberry)


Ulmus (elm)


Vitis (grape)


Unknown pollen



Filed under beekeeping, pollination

The Elusive Pollen Frame

For weeks, I’ve been wanting to get either a photo or video of this one frame of multi-colored pollen that looks like stained-glass, and I was determined to make it happen this week.

Usually by the time I make it to the 3rd super where this frame is located, the girls are a bit worked up and the camera woman has to run to the house. The digital camera I have is old school, and you have to look through the view finder which is difficult while wearing a veil. I decided to try and get some video using my iPhone, but it is also difficult to operate while wearing gloves, but I managed to get some footage that isn’t terrible but not as focused as I wanted. Hopefully it conveys the variety of pollen that has been stored, and one of these days I’ll actually get a decent photo.

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Pollen Analysis – Breakdown

I meant to post this earlier, but here is the official breakdown of pollen in the honey sample I sent in.

Pollen Taxa Count %
ASTERACEAE (sunflower-type) 1 0.5%
BORAGINACEAE (borage) 1 0.5%
FABACEAE (legumes) 1 0.5%
LAMIACEAE (mint) 2 0.9%
Lagerstroemia (crepe-myrtle) 162 75.3%
Ligustrum (privet) 17 7.9%
LILIACEAE (lily family) 7 3.3%
Melilotus (clover) 3 1.4%
Prosopis (mesquite) 20 9.3%
Unknown pollen 1 0.5%
Totals 215 100%  



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Pollen Analysis Results

I received my pollen analysis from Dr. Bryant this morning, and I was a bit shocked. It turns out the girls love the crepe-myrtles. Austin had great rains starting last fall into early summer, and I will say the crepe-myrtles had amazing blooms this year. I just never saw any bees on them. We have several in our yard and while I saw the occasional bee buzzing around the blooms, I just assumed they were not a major source of pollen or nectar.

Here is some of the technical information from the report:

Category I: contain less than 20,000 grains/10 g.  Often, honey in this category represents samples that have been pressure-filtered, honey from floral sources that produce little pollen, honeys that were partly produced by sugar-feeding bees, or honey that has been adulterated by adding high-fructose syrup.  Usually, honeydew honey samples also fall into this first category.  Pollen concentration counts in Category II: contain between 20,000-100,000 grains/10 g and indicates the honey has come from normal floral sources.  Category III: pollen concentration values range from 100,000-500,000 grains/10 g and represent floral sources that are high pollen producers or indicate that some of the comb storage cells containing pure pollen may have been mixed with the extracted honey.  Category IV: includes pollen concentrations between 500,000-1,000,000 grains/10 g.  That category along with honey in Category V: (containing pollen concentrations of more than 1,000,000 grains/10 g) indicate honey that is produced from a few different floral sources that are extremely rich in pollen (i.e., Myosotis sylvatica, Cynoglossum officinale).

Here is the official summary:

Your honey is an excellent example of a “Unifloral Honey” because it contains a dominant pollen type in the amount of 81%.  For a unifloral honey, the International Bee Commission states you must have at least one pollen type in a percentage greater than 45%.  The pollen concentration value of 35,650 pollen grains per 10 grams of honey is low, but it is within Category 2, which is in the range dominated by many Unifloral Honey samples. Because crepe-myrtle pollen is fairly large, much of it would normally be removed during a bee’s flight back to the hive.  This phenomenon results in a low pollen concentration value in honey produced from the nectar of certain taxa, such as crepe-myrtle.

In addition to this honey being an excellent example of a Unifloral crepe-myrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) honey, it also contains a small amount of nectar from another two sources, mesquite (Prosopis sp.), and privet (Ligustrum sp.).  There are also a few other pollen types represented in this sample, which might reflect very minor foraging activity of your bees on other flowers such as those of clover (Melilotus sp.), some species of mint (LAMIACEAE the genus of which I cannot be certain since many mint types produce very similar pollen), and some species of plant in the lily family (Fig. 1).  The lily pollen is very similar to the pollen of yucca (Yucca sp.) or crow poison (Nothoscordum sp.), but there are other pollen types that are nearly identical and thus without further work I could not be certain of the precise species that is represented.  Overall, this is and excellent example of a good, unifloral crepe-myrtle honey.


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Week 7 Activities

On a hot and muggy Sunday, I opened up the hive for my week 7 inspection. Time has flown by quickly, and I’m amazed how quickly Large Marge and crew have built up the hive. The 3rd super I added last week had a lot more comb on it than I expected which is great. I was a bit worried that I might have to put the feeder back on since sometimes bees are reluctant to draw out comb on new plastic foundation, but the frames are progressing nicely. This tells me there is still good nectar flow around Austin.

The 2nd super is where I placed the Beetle Blaster. You can see me below inspecting the trap and noticing the lack of blasted beetles. Either the jingle has lied to me, or I don’t have enough beetles in the hive that need blasting. I did notice a few running around which were promptly squished, but hopefully the girls are keeping them under control.


Checking the Beetle Blaster

Bees store both pollen and honey in cells. Below is a good shot of cells filled with pollen surrounded by uncapped honey. Technically, it is not even honey yet but nectar that hasn’t been cured meaning the water content is still too high to be considered honey.

I also thought I found a swarm cell, but I believe it is just some burr comb which refers to bits of random wax combs built basically where you don’t want it to be built. I scraped it off my handy dandy hive tool. This is also a great photo showing a frame of capped brood which are baby bees in their final stage of becoming a worker.


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Prickly Pears in Bloom

Last weekend, the prickly pears were in full bloom, and I was disappointed to see my bees were not taking full advantage of this bounty of pollen. I am happy to report the girls have figured it out.

Karl's bees figure it out

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Pollen is the only source of protein and other nutrients for the bee colony, and is the primary food for the larvae. Below is another great shot by the owner of the property where my hive resides. In addition to working very hard to get itself into the African Aloe Bloom, the pollen baskets on the legs of this bee are quite full. I’ve also decided that even though there is a wild hive in the neighbor’s yard, I’m assuming any photo taken is a bee from my hive.

Bee, Aloe bloom

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