Why Are Honey Bees At My Bird Feeder?

Honey bees at birder feeder.
Have you noticed honey bees visiting your bird feeders on those first warm days at the end of winter?

Believe it or not, it is the cracked corn. More specifically, they gather the dust on the cracked corn. These dust particles resemble pollen grains and also contain some trace amounts of corn pollen.

  Bees Love Pollen

Bees eating pollen is one of the reasons there are so many plants around in the first place. When bees fly around collecting pollen for food, they spread some of it around to other plants, causing the pollination that bees are famous for.

Bees are opportunistic, and they’ll collect anything they think they can use for protein. Corn dust actually does contain a degree of pollen, though not in the amounts bees get straight from the source. What really matters to the foragers is that corn dust looks like pollen.

Bees have incredible eyesight. They use that to spot and differentiate flowers based on color and shape, but also to spot pollen itself. Bees see corn dust, think pollen and celebrate that they hit the jackpot so close to the hive.

  Pollen Sources

Honey bee gathering pollen and nectar.
Honey bee gathering
nectar and pollen

Pollen isn’t all the same, which makes it good that bees collect it from a whole bunch of different plants as they forage. Bees can forage up to 3 miles from their hive to find the best nectar and pollen, and on the way, they mix up the pollen from all the different flowers they land on together to make a pollen pellet. This basically combines all the best qualities from whatever types of pollen they picked up.

Some might have higher quality proteins than others, but when they’re all put together, bees can be sure they’ll be making the good bee bread.

Bees are good for biodiversity, and biodiversity is good for bees. So, if all the pollen or pollen substitute sources they’re getting is from one source, bees eating just that are in for an underwhelming time.

Bees also know that pollen is the best protein source for them. If there’s pollen available, they’ll usually choose it over other options. But if bees come out of winter with a good honey store, nectar might not be immediately crucial.

If a warm day tricks bees into foraging early, they’ll take what they can get to feed the brood that’s on its way. This has become a bigger problem lately since warm days have started outpacing blooming flowers. Bees start foraging before the good stuff is available, so they make do.

Read more: Garden Plan to Provide Food For Bees
Bumble bee with nectar grains

Why Do Plants Produce Nectar?

Plants had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material. Flying pollinators were nature's solution. Nectar is made as a reward for pollinators.

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