Standardized analytical techniques for bee-collected pollen

Mary Kay O'Rourke, Stephen L. Buchmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Existing quantitative palynological techniques (i.e., chemical processing, counting, and numerical analysis of pollen) were adapted for use by entomologists. Particularly important were calculation of pollen concentrations and assessment of pollen volume. Corbicular pellets, honey, larval pollen provision masses, and feces contained pollen exines representative of plants visited by bees. Dietary importance of a plant was assessed from a number of pollen grains and volume. Counts of small pollen grains represented dietary importance adequately (i.e., Larrea and Ambrosia), whereas counts of large grains (i.e., Cereus and Acacia) underrepresented dietary importance. Data were presented in graph form and reliability was demonstrated from samples repeatedly drawn from a thoroughly mixed honey bee pollen diet. Corbicular pellets were collected from Apis mellifera (L.) colonies fitted with Ontario Agricultural College pollen traps during 1985 in Pima Canyon, near Tucson, Ariz.; 25 species were present. Results from a bee diet include pollen grains of diverse morphologies and volumes, stressing the importance of adequate sample preparation, chemical processing, and numerical analysis. Use of these methods by apiculturists and melittologists will facilitate direct, justifiable comparison of pollen diets for bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1991


  • Bee diet
  • Insecta
  • Pollen collection
  • Pollen volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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