However, before these can be discussed two important factors need to be considered. These are: Pollen quantity and the season of pollen production.

Pollen quantity

A strong hive of bees, when actively breeding, needs between 50 and 100 grams of pure protein per day to meet their protein needs. If the bees are working a pollen source which contains 20% available crude protein, they need to collect 250 to 500 grams of pollen per day to satisfy their requirements. However if they are working a pollen source which contains 25% available crude protein, they need to collect only 200 to 400 grams per day to satisfy their requirements, and if they are working a pollen source of 15% available crude protein, then the bees need to collect and consume 340 to 680 grams per day.

Most beekeepers would appreciate that some floral sources produce more pollen than others, so a floral source with plenty of pollen may make up in quantity for any shortage in quality. An example of this would be flatweed or false dandelion, and white mahogany.

Season of pollen production

Bees appear to need varying levels of pollen protein at different times of the year. In autumn, bees require high body-protein levels to prepare for their winter requirements, and will be stimulated to breed only if good protein is available. The bees are reluctant to commit themselves to a protein-consuming breeding program before winter, unless stimulated by a very plentiful and high quality food source. Feeding bees with protein in late autumn will not stimulate the production of brood, unless there is sufficient protein to overcome their seasonal reluctance. In spring however, bees are naturally stimulated by the conditions and will breed even on low protein pollen.

The following pages list pollen sources in order of flowering times during autumn, winter, spring and summer. Where they are known, the amino-acids in the pollen protein are also listed, and compared with the ideal amino-acid levels calculated by De Groot. This will help beekeepers to assess the suitability of the pollen as a protein source.

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