Question of the Month

How Do Bees Collect Pollen?

A very hairy honeybee close up.
What a handsome looking honeybee!

Hairy! Not the description one might expect when describing honeybees, but definitely an accurate one. Honeybees have very fine hairs that allow them to easily collect pollen.

It's simple: when bees fly, they build up a positive charge. Flowers have a slightly negative one, so when the bee lands on the bloom, static electricity causes the pollen to cling to the bees fine hairs. They then groom the pollen out and store it in "pollen baskets" on their hind legs for transport back to the hive.

Common carder bee working on a purple sage flower.
Not a honeybee, but a type of bumblebee! (common carder)

Now, if you want to know how bees get the flower nectar back to the hive and make honey out of it, well... we'll talk about that another day!

Further Reading

Check out this fascinating article at with a great close up pic

Cliff notes:

  • Bee saddlebags also include nectar and can weigh close to 50% of the bees normal weight!
  • Researchers found that the pollen is securely attached to the bee, and requires extreme force in order to be removed
  • Studying how bees get collection done will help in future efforts toward creating much needed artificial pollination systems