A beekeeper must always be planning well in advance. Beekeeping involves a continuously changing series of tasks based upon honey bee biology. In temperate regions, like the Arkansas Delta, the bees are continuously changing their activities based broadly upon a schedule of collecting nectar and making honey in the spring, summer, and fall to be eaten in the winter. Queens lay eggs throughout the year, stopping only in the middle of winter. Colonies expand rapidly in the spring, often swarming to propagate new colonies. To stimulate drone production next spring in advance of raising new queens, we will feed the bees pollen. We collect bee pollen in the summer in traps located at the entrance to some of the bee hives. The summer pollen, collected from diverse sources, will be quite valuable late next winter for honey bee nutrition. Nutrition is a key factor in the production of high quality queen bees as well. We will feed the colonies producing next year’s queens pollen throughout the queen's development.
The pollen trap brushes the pollen off the pollen baskets of foraging worker bees as they enter the hive. The pollen falls into a screen basket and is removed daily. The pollen is immediately frozen and remains in the freezer until used. Pollen traps are designed to not be completely efficient. If they captured all of the pollen being brought into the hive, the colony’s brood would starve. When the pollen trap is set to collect, the bees compensate for their loss of pollen by recruiting extra pollen foragers. Many people like to eat honey bee pollen, as it contains protein, vitamins, minerals, and lipids, or fats. One of my favorite breakfast meals is a cup of McCarter's chicory coffee and a banana sprinkled with honey bee pollen.