The importance of pollen to honey bees, from which they derive most of their needed nutrients, cannot be over emphasized. Do you know from which plant types your bees are collecting pollen at each time of year? You might be surprised. More importantly, are your bees facing nutritional stress at the same time as they are facing high varroa pressure?

Honey Bee gathering pollen from flowers of Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

After spending nearly 1000 hours on the WV Pollen Project (click here for the spring report, and here for the fall report), I would like to use the experience gained to answer further questions from beekeepers and researchers regarding honey bee foraging habits. We have frequently been surprised to find which plants our bees actually utilize. I recently analyzed a sample of fall pollen for a college in Maryland. To our surprise, even though the hives were located next to a field of blooming Goldenrod, about 95% of the bees’ pollen was actually coming from an entirely unrelated source in a completely different plant family. We have also looked at bee bread and found a significant amount of the bees’ winter stores composed of Soybean pollen. If you would like to have honey bee pollen pellets or bee bread analyzed to identify the plant type(s) present, you need simply mail the pollen sample(s) with a completed Pollen Sample Record Sheet and payment of $80 per sample to the address below. (WV residence add 6% sales tax.) This price covers preparation of samples and minimal fee for analysis. The goal is is to make it as affordable as possible for individuals. If you are considering a grant to do a larger study, contact me to discuss the process and prices.

Pollen Sample Record Sheet (click to open and download)

If you are investigating the foraging behavior of honey bees, I strongly recommend you follow the standard protocols developed for the West Virginia Pollen Project in 2015. Download the “Pollen Collection Protocols” pdf document below and follow it carefully. This process is designed to provide an accurate snapshot of all pollen intake on the date that the sample was collected. If this is done at weekly or bi-weekly intervals through the year or a season you can begin to see how pollen intake from various plant species changes over time. State beekeeper organizations or departments of agriculture could perform this type of sampling at various locations around the state and produce a report on pollinator habitat statewide. This process can also be used to evaluate pollinator habitat before and after ubanization or other major impacts on the landscape.

Pollen Collection Protocols for investigating honey bee foraging. Click to view and download.

If you would like to collaborate with me about setting up a project in your area, please contact me.

Contact me before sending samples.
Checks can be made out to Michael Staddon
Mail to:
Michael Staddon
1911 Buffalo Calf Road
Salem, WV  26426
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