Bee bread

Description

Bee bread is bee-collected flower pollen packed into beeswax comb cells. Adult worker bee foragers collect pollen from flowers, pack it into pollen baskets on their hind legs, and bring it back to their hive. In the hive, the foragers scrape the two pollen pellets into a cell. Some pollen sources may cling to body hairs of returning foragers, and a few flowers might cause a yellow face or a streak on the forager's thoraxthorax:
the middle region of the adult bee body, which lies in between the head and the abdomen; consists of three segments: pro-, meso-, and meta-thorax; thorax attachments include three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings
.

Worker house bees then pack the pellets (by tamping down with their head) and mix it with nectar, honey, and bee saliva. The added saliva and enzymes result in probiotic bacteria and yeasts breaking down the protein into a form useful to bee digestion. The bees glaze cells filled with the converted pollen (bee bread) with a honey glaze.

The bee bread is stored in cells where brood is being reared (the brood sphere), especially as a resource on frames just at the edge of the brood sphere so it is within easy reach of the nurse bees. It will have a large range of colors and nutritive value depending upon floral source.

A dearth of pollen may result in a reduction of brood rearing, depending upon the amount of previously stored bee bread. Beekeepers supplement the protein of bee bread by feeding pollen supplements (protein with some pollen to attract workers) or protein substitutes (protein and sugar but no pollen). Recently, there have been studies on the adequacy of different protein supplements or substitutes (most are recipes adapted from cattle raising).

It appears there is a difference in colony response to fall and spring pollens, meaning supplements might need to contain pollens collected locally in the proper season for maximum effectiveness.

See also

foraging

Resources

“What Is Bee Bread?”. YouTube, uploaded by David Burns, 4 September 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpq42ItKagw

Anderson C. 2018. Bee Bread. Carolina HoneybeesCarolina Honeybees:
Carolina Honeybees. Accessed October 2022. https://carolinahoneybees.com/
. Accessed 2023. https://carolinahoneybees.com/bee-bread/

Conrad R. 2016. Bee Pollen - An Overview. Bee Culture. https://www.beeculture.com/bee-pollen-overview/

 Bee bread cells among worker cells that contain multiple eggs; photo by Robert Snyder
Bee bread cells among worker cells that contain multiple eggs; photo by Robert Snyder
 Four cells of bee bread among open brood cells that contain eggs and first instar larvae; photo by The BeeMD photo collection
Four cells of bee bread among open brood cells that contain eggs and first instar larvae; photo by The BeeMD photo collection
 Bee bread (note color variation); photo by The BeeMD photo collection
Bee bread (note color variation); photo by The BeeMD photo collection
 Bee bread; photo by Robert Snyder
Bee bread; photo by Robert Snyder
 Cells of bee bread at top of frame among mixed open and capped brood; photo by Robert Snyder
Cells of bee bread at top of frame among mixed open and capped brood; photo by Robert Snyder
 Bee bread; photo by Robert Snyder
Bee bread; photo by Robert Snyder