bee feces

Honey bees collect Alaska cedar pollen

Yesterday, when I saw hundreds of honey bees in the Alaska cedar hedge (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) in front of my house, I thought they must be collecting propolis. But on closer inspection, it was obvious they were collecting pollen. Their corbiculae were full of pollen the exact color of the pollen-bearing strobili that adorned the tips of the branches of some of more mature trees. When I pulled the branches apart for a closer look, clouds of brownish pollen floated on the air.

A little research revealed that many kinds of evergreen tree pollen are collected by honey bees. Although it is not considered high-quality pollen as far as bee nutrition is concerned, if there is little else available, the bees will eagerly gather it.

When the sun finally came out–later in the afternoon–the honey bees abandoned the cedars in favor of something else. In the photo below you can see the full corbiculae of a cedar-foraging honey bee.


The pollen baskets are barely visible, camouflaged against the pollen-bearing strobili.


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