She-oak

Allocasuarina spp

She-oak, oak, or casuarina is a family of Australian native trees that produces large quantities of wind-blown pollen. Bees actively collect this pollen (Clemson, p.159-162).

She-oak or casuarina have both male and female trees. The male trees at particular times of the year will produce large quantities of wind-blown pollen. When this occurs, these male trees change to a rusty red colour.

She-oak pollen has a crude protein of 11% to 17% (Table 29). However, these tests also include the oak husks, which the bees don't eat, but discard at the entrance of the hive. These husks look like a mass of red/brown sawdust. So possibly what the bees consume may have a higher crude protein level than the tests indicate. The amino acid levels of she-oak pollen are not good, with valine, methionine, and iso-leucine below the desirable levels for honey bees. Kleinschmidt (1984) also reports low levels of these amino-acids and crude protein.

She-oak trees do not produce nectar, and as such will not supply energy for the bees. However, the pollen produced by these trees can be handy in increasing hive populations. Some beekeepers have reported a breeding stimulation to bees when the oak flowers, especially after Pilliga box, in the Pilliga scrub.

Oak pollen is not recommended as one to be collected and used as feedback to bees.

Table 29: She-oak Allocasuarina spp.

Amino-acid
Minimum % of Amino-Acid from De Groot (1953)
Tweed 

1987

Lismore 

1987

Ulmarra 

Dec 1991

Threonine 3.0 3.1 3.3 3.7
Valine 4.0 *2.5 *2.7 *3.9
Methionine 1.5 *1.4 1.9 3.076
Leucine 4.5 4.9 5.3  5.8
Iso-leucine 4.0 *1.9 *2.0 *3.4
Phenylalanine 2.5 2.9 3.3 3.6
Lysine 3.0 4.7 5.3 5.6
Histidine 1.5 2.7 3.5 3.5
Arginine 3.0 6.0 5.6 6.6
Tryptophan 1.0      
Crude Protein   13.9% 17.3% 11.3%

* Low level of this amino-acid
 

casuarina pollen

She-oak or casuarina pollen viewed under the microscope (X400)


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