Can I collect pollen from a Flow hive?
We’ve all called those customer service hotlines where a recorded voice says, “Your call is important to us. Please hold for the next available representative.” Slight pause and then, “Your call is important to us. Please hold . . . .” You finally hang up, which is what they were counting on.
Well, this question—and several others like it—makes me feel like I, too, am on endless repeat. “Except for harvesting honey, the Flow hive is like any other Langstroth hive.” Slight pause. “Except for harvesting honey . . . .”
Basically, if you can make splits with a Langstroth, you can make splits with a Flow. If you can raise queens in a Langstroth, you can raise queens in a Flow. If you can build bookshelves from a Langstroth, you can build bookshelves from a Flow—albeit very expensive bookshelves.
And yes, you can collect pollen with a standard pollen trap. Just like the mouse trap of legend, someone is always designing a better pollen trap. They come expensive or cheap, plastic or wooden, top mounted or bottom. Whatever your heart desires.
Basically, a pollen trap is a device that fits over the hive entrance. As foraging bees return from the field, they are forced to go through a mesh or small hole before they enter the hive. The opening is small enough that some of the pollen pellets are knocked off the bees’ legs and fall into a tray below.
Pollen collecting takes some work on the part of the beekeeper. So far, there is no magic crank for pollen, and live bees (with stingers) are present.
Pollen traps need to be monitored constantly. If traps are in place for long periods, the colony will have insufficient pollen to raise brood. Also, pollen quickly becomes moldy, so it must be protected from dew and rain, and it must be harvested frequently. Furthermore, once harvested, the delicate pollen must be frozen or dried immediately.
Pollen traps should only be installed on vigorous colonies during a heavy pollen flow. Weak colonies shouldn’t be saddled with a pollen trap, and no colony should have a trap during periods when flowers are scarce. Remember, bees wouldn’t collect it if they didn’t need it, so tread softly.
I consider pollen trapping to be an advanced beekeeping skill, not because it’s difficult, but because the keeper must be able to recognize a strong hive from a weaker one and a heavy pollen flow from a light one. Still, if you absolutely must try it, an inexpensive pollen trap such this Plastic pollen trap with removable ventilated pollen tray works just fine.
The preserved pollen can be fed to your bees during pollen dearths or used for spring build-up. It can be mixed with pollen substitute or fed straight up. High-quality pollen is the best source of protein for brood development and queen rearing.
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