What is meant under “pollen” in this publication are the pollen grains from flower stamens, not the bee pollen stored in honeycombs which is a sub-product of the pollen described in the article. The pollen stored in honeycombs differs in composition from that which can be found on the plants.

Pollen is composed of small grains with a diameter of a few thousandths of a millimeter. Pollen differs from flower to flower not only in color and hue, but also in the size and shape of the pollen grain, the structure of its shell, the presence of striations and even how they are located. This makes it possible to accurately determine the species identification of pollen.

Pollen grains of the different types of willow and birch are 7 microns in size, and those of the plants from of the pumpkin family reach 150 microns.

The pollen grain shell, called exine, has a complicated structure. It is hard and determines its shape. Under a microscope, most pollen grains look round. They have evolved so because having this shape, they can be easily carried away by the wind. Some grains have a prickly shell and look like hedgehogs, others resemble flowers, and etc.

The scientific study of pollen grains is referred to as palynology. The section thereof, focusing on the pollen of insect pollinated plants to ascertain its presence in honey, is called melissopalynology. The wide implementation of pollen analysis in beekeeping will contribute to solving a number of theoretical and practical issues. Through this method, the selective ability of bees in terms of different melliferous plants could be examined.

Bees collect pollen only from certain plants. There are no two hives, even if positioned next to each other, in which the bees would carry pollen from the same plant or in the same quantity. In our experiments, we observed a great difference in the pollen brought to 30 beehives with pollen traps attached to them. The analysis of the pollen from the pollen baskets of some bees showed that in most cases it consisted of pollen grains of the same plant. Bees from two neighboring hives, not only gather completely different types of pollen, but for years each family tends to keep its preference for a certain plant. This is quite strange, since it is known that worker bees do not live long and those who have collected willow pollen in the spring, are dead during the next year’s flowering. It seems that bees from different hives have a preference for pollen with different nitrogen content. What is a key factor in this respect is the pace of development of individual colonies which is inherited. Colonies which prefer pollen rich in nitrogen and do not go to various plants are strong and develop earlier than all.

By pollen analysis it can be determined which plants produce enough pollen. The establishment of the pollen spectrum of honey and its origin is also required because of its use in medicine. The studies of bee-collected pollen will contribute to its widespread application in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Olga Petkova

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