Canola or rape seed

Brassica spp.

Canola or rape seed crops (Clemson, p.197) are very good and commonly used bee food. The canola pollen contains 23% to 24% crude protein. (Table 22)

Manning (1995) reports canola pollen having crude protein levels as high as 27.1% and as low as 18.4%.

Both the crude protein and amino-acid ratio of canola is adequate for honey bees, and the good nectar available from this crop allows rapid and effective bee breeding. In good years, bees foraging on canola may have severe swarming problems. Canola appears to have a more regular nectar production than turnip weed, as nectar production may occur during the cooler weather. Somerville (1996) found that canola pollen contains 7% oil.

There are a few problems for bees working canola:

1. The farmers often need to spray the crop, and bee deaths may result. It is best for the beekeeper to let the farmer and local air spray company know of his presence and apiary location, so if spraying needs to occur, the farmer or pilot can notify the beekeeper who can remove his bees prior to spraying.

2. The crop can finish flowering very suddenly, causing nutritional problems with rapidly breeding bees. It is best to move the bees to a new food source before the end of flowering.

3. Canola can stimulate massive swarming problems in honey bees, but vigorously applied swarm control methods can reduce this problem.

Canola pollen would be a worthwhile pollen to collect and freeze for later feed- back to the bees when pollen is short.

Table 22: Canola or rape seed Brassica spp

Minimum % of Amino-Acid from 
De Groot (1953)
Sept 1991
Threonine 3.0 4.4  4.4 
Valine 4.0 3.5*  4.7 
Methionine 1.5 1.74  2.9 
Leucine 4.5 6.24  6.4 
Iso-leucine 4.0 3.92* 4.3 
Phenylalanine 2.5 3.98  4.0 
Lysine 3.0 6.82  6.7 
Histidine 1.5 2.71  2.3 
Arginine 3.0 4.57  4.3 
Tryptophan 1.0 - -
Crude protein - 23.2% 24.9% 
Fat - - **7%

* Low level of this amino-acid
**Somerville 1996, Personal Communication).

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