In addition to foraging for nectar, bees also hunt for pollen, which they feed their young. Each hive can gather up to 1 pound a year. Each tiny pollen ball represents 5,000 visits to a flower. Different floral sources make distinct pollen colors. For instance, a reddish pollen could have come from spring dogwood blossoms.
Several attendees asked questions. Dave Walsman, Oldenburg, wondered, “How do you go about harvesting the pollen?” A pollen trap can be installed on a hive’s entrance. When a bee crawls through it, pollen is brushed off of its hind legs. He says pollen should be removed daily so it doesn’t get dirty. Chefs and health food store owners “are willing to pay a nice price” for it, up to $50 per pound, because pollen is considered a homeopathic remedy for allergies.
Mary Stephens, Batesville, asked, “What do you think about Mason bees?” Stewart answers, “They’re awesome,” often better at pollinating crops than European honeybees, which were imported here by colonists, who harvested beeswax for candles, but not honey. Green bees, bumblebees and Mason bees are native species.
Nina Muccillo, Buena Vista, asked if Stewart has had problems with raccoons raiding hives. “No, but skunks will lay waste to a bee hive,” he responds. A cunning skunk will scratch the ground outside one. Guard bees come out and the skunk eats them. Hives placed on high racks can deter mammals.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
How to learn more • Stewart believes being part of a beekeeping community is important so newer members can ask questions, visit hives and be mentored. "The Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association (www.indianahoney.org) is one of the best groups in the entire (Cincinnati) region." • Two events are on the schedule this month. Indiana State Apiary inspector Kathleen Prough will discuss "Mistakes new Beekeepers Make and how to Avoid Them" Thursday, March 13, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hanover College J. Brown Graham Campus Center board room. Then Garry Reeves presents Winter Workshop No. 4 Saturday, March 15, starting at 7 a.m. at his Moores Hill shop. Attendees should bring their safety glasses and materials. Info: email@example.com, 812-744-1402 or 812-637-3663.