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1275RE: [beemonitoring] getting pollen out of flowers -- logistics

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  • Cane, Jim
    Nov 5, 2010

      Linda- it depends entirely on the circumstances, which is a prime reason that published studies have worked with some plants and not others.  One approach for bee pollinated plants with small amts of inaccessible pollen (e.g. alfalfa, other papilionaceous legumes) is to let a megachilid bee do it for you, or any other bee that totes its pollen dry.  If you take pollen pellets of honey- or bumble bees, realize that a variable fraction of the dry weight (say 25%) will be nectar sugars, confounding calculations of protein percentage for just the pollen itself.  I’ve done just this, intercepting them back at nests, freezing them, brushing the pollen out of their scopa, checking ID on a slide mount, and using the rest.  Works best for plants dominating a floral display (e.g. farm field, or a comparable natural setting).  For quite a few other flowers, esp. wind-pollinated ones, collect a big bouquet, stand them in water, and place the vase on a sheet of glass.  You’ll get some fallen pollen, and you can augment this by buzzing around the bouquet with a tuning fork daily.  Use a razor blade to plow the pollen around on the smooth clean glass surface, piling it up and into your container.  Steve Buchmann taught me this technique, and it has worked for me in many contexts.


      Good luck!  jim



      James H. Cane

      USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab

      Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322 USA

      tel: 435-797-3879   FAX: 435-797-0461

      email: Jim.Cane@... 



      Gardening for Native Bees: http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/plants-pollinators09.pdf


      "The obscure takes time to see,

      but the obvious takes longer"
      Edward R. Murrow


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