How bees collect pollen

A honeybee collects yellow pollen from a willow flower. She has pollen in her pollen baskets and a dusting of pollen on her head and body.
Messy eater. A bee forages from a willow bloom.

How do bees collect pollen?

Honey bees use their jaws and legs to get pollen off of plants and onto themselves, adding a little honey stomach liquid to make it sticky. Additional pollen may cling to their hairy bodies by static electricity: bees are slightly positively charged an pollen is slightly negatively charged. The bees use their front and middle legs to groom off the pollen and deposit it on the inside of their back legs onto pollen combs. The pollen combs are on the inside of the back legs are are made up of numerous hairs. Then the bees rub their back legs together and transfer and pack the pollen into the pollen baskets on the outside of their back legs. The pollen basket is a little depression in the outer tibia surrounded by hairs. You can see the bee in the above photo has a “lump” of pollen on her hind leg: that’s pollen in her pollen basket. When the pollen basket is full, she will return to the hive, back up into a cell, and deposit the pollen pellets.

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