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Bee Bread

Preserved pollen

Even though it's in every colony, bee bread is something that beekeepers, in general, know little about. That is understandable, because little is written about it in beekeeping books, therefore, probably the main reason why it isn't taught. I admit to knowing very little myself, other than if the surface of pollen in cells is dry, it is freshly collected, if it is moist, with a glistening surface, it is bee bread. I find that even these visual signs aren't often recognised by beekeepers.

One reason for the lack of knowledge is probably because of previous disagreements amongst scientists. This has been written about by Randy Oliver, who owns the brilliant beekeeping website Scientific Beekeeping, where in three parts, he has covered the topic of bee bread well, including a little on the research history. These three parts can be linked direct to Randy's website via the buttons top left and are well worth a read.

In simple terms, bee bread is pollen that has had nectar, honey and glandular secretions added to it. Fermentation takes place that helps to preserve it. This can be seen by looking at super combs that have been stored or brood combs from a colony that has died out. You will probably see that pollen has gone mouldy, yet bee bread may be clear of mould. Rather than pollen being stored for winter, I suspect it is bee bread, that has a covering of honey over it, then sealed. I'm believe this is correct, because that's what I see in extracted frames.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 26/12/2022