Collecting and storing corbicular pollen to feed to caged adult workers in the laboratory

Based on storage methods described by Pernal and Currie (2000) that successfully maintained honey bee-collected pollen pellets for up to one year without decreasing its nutritional value, the following procedure allows for proper collection and storage of fresh pollen for at least a single field season.

  1. Identify a suitable colony to collect pollen from. Refer to section 4.1 for a brief discussion on choosing source colonies for worker collection because pollen should also be collected from healthy colonies.
  2. Install a thoroughly cleaned trap (see section 5.2.1. for cleaning equipment using acetone) to collect pollen from incoming foragers sporadically over the course of a few weeks, rather than continuously for more than two days at a time, to ensure colony pollen supplies remains sufficient (see the BEEBOOK paper on miscellaneous methods by Human et al. (2013)).
  3. Carefully separate pollen from other trap debris (i.e. plant material, honey bee body parts) using a sterile forceps or small fine-tipped paint brushes.
  4. Separate a subsample of each pollen species based on colour (e.g. Moore and Webb, 1983), and store at –18°C or colder to allow for possible future identification of plant species if needed (see the BEEBOOK paper on pollination methods by Delaplane et al. (2013)).
  5. Homogenise collected pollen to ensure uniform distribution of colony-specific pollen, and store it fresh in air-tight containers at –18 °C or colder. Minimize or evacuate air in storage containers.
  6. Remove from cold storage only when needed and prepare for feeding as discussed in section