What is bee bread and how is it made? This Deep Look episode from KQED shares how older female adult bees mix around 160,000 pollen grains with nectar, honey and some of their saliva to make each pellet of protein-rich ‘bee bread’ that’s deposited for the colony to eat. The three million hairs all over their tiny bodies, including on their eyes, help them collect. From KQED.org:
Young adult female bees distribute the stored pollen to the whole colony. They eat bee bread to make a liquid food similar to mammal’s milk that they feed to growing larvae and adult bees, including the queen. They also give little bits of bee bread to older larvae…
When a bee lands on a flower, it nibbles and licks off the pollen, which sticks to its head. It wipes the pollen off its eyes and antennae with a brush on each of its front legs, using them in tandem like windshield wipers. It also cleans the pollen off its mouth part, and as it does this, it mixes it with some saliva and a little nectar or honey that it carries around in a kind of stomach called a crop…
As it flies from bloom to bloom, the bee combs the pollen very quickly and moves it into baskets on its hind legs called corbiculae (core-BICK-you-lee). Each basket is made up of a concave section of the hind leg, which is covered by longish hairs that bend over and around the pollen.
Back at the hive, bees deposit their pollen pellets close to the cells where bee larvae are growing. Another bee might come along and add some more honey to the pollen, and then the bee bread is essentially ready to eat.
Read more at KQED.org: Honey Bees Make Honey … and Bread?
Watch more bee videos and more pollen videos on this site. Plus: The first 21 days of a bee’s life, a time lapse in 64 seconds and How Do Bees Make Honey?