For honey bees, pollen is essential for brood-rearing, and they need a lot of it: an average colony collects 50 to 125 pounds per year. Pollen is honey bees’ main source of protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals. They need pollen with 20% protein; 10 of the amino acids in pollen protein are essential to honey bee development. Not all plants provide equally nutritious pollen, or the same amount of pollen. And, honey bees do not seem to choose pollen based on its nutritional content.
How can you help honey bees get the nutritious pollen they need? Plant a variety of plants which provide pollen at different times of year. No one species can provide all nutritional needs. I suggest favoring native plants which are adapted to your region in favor of exotic plants, cultivars or hybridized plants.
Here are 10 great native woody plants which provide quality pollen:
- Willows (Salix species)
- Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera)
- Hazelnut (Corylus species)
- Maples (Acer species)
- Elms (Ulmus species)
- Ash (Fraxinus species)
- Poplars (Poplus species)
- Elderberry (Sambucus species)
- Cherry (Prunus species)
- Crabapples (Malus species)
Happy Pollen Planting from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!
Photo: Honey Bee Gathering Pollen from Corylus
Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy