After I wrote about floral fidelity and the purity of pollen baskets, I received this awesome photo by Chelsea at thehoneybeat.com. Look carefully and you will see the worker in the center of the photo has pollen baskets of two distinctly different colors. So how did this happen?
I’ve tried to think this through, but it’s tough. On one hand, the pollen baskets look to be pure, just like normal. In other words, the yellow and orange pollens are not mixed together, but kept separate.
But on the other hand, how did she do this? Surely, she wouldn’t fill one basket completely and then the other. If so, she’d be flying lopsided. Pollen baskets are always filled at the same rate so the bee stays balanced.
Was she foraging on two types of pollen at once and separating each color as she went? This seems equally unlikely.
Chelsea asked if I had any ideas but, in truth, the more I think about it, the confused-er I get.