A method for harvesting unfermented pollen from stingless bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Meliponini)
Cristiano Menezes, Ayrton Vollet Neto and Vera Lucia Imperatriz Fonseca
Pollen traps used for harvesting pollen from Apis mellifera do not work for stingless bees, as most species have small entrances and rapidly deposit large quantities of propolis at any barrier in front of the nest. Some stingless beekeepers harvest pollen by removing it directly from pollen pots, but this pollen is normally fermented and unpalatable. The aim of this study was to test a new method for harvesting pollen from stingless bee colonies before it begins to ferment. Colonies of Scaptotrigona depilis were removed and replaced by empty hives, which were occupied by the returning foragers and used for storing pollen and nectar. After one week, the pollen and honey were harvested directly from the storing pots and weighed. On average, the colonies produced 8.7 g of honey and 54.2 g of unfermented pollen (n = 10). This method is a viable option for harvesting unfermented pollen from stingless bees, especially with species that harvest large amounts of pollen. The unfermented pollen of S. depilis was well received in taste tests, receiving higher scores than fermented pollen, and similar scores to A. mellifera pollen, so could have great commercial possibilities. It is also a good method for studying the foraging of stingless bees because the amount of harvested food can be easily and precisely quantified.