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Honey bee gathering pollen from their body to concentrate it in their baskets

Honey bee using forelegs to rake up pollen from their head...

Have you ever seen a bee gathering the pollen that has collected on their body and concentrating it ? Well, I never did until the other day. Well that's what I think it was doing, but I'm waiting to hear from UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab to verify that this is what this behavior was about.

I was observing bees in the tree lavatera in our garden, doing a bee count for the Great Sunflower Project

Suddenly I saw this honey bee hop onto a leaf, slowly moving its legs. At first I thought it might be injured in someway. But looking closer I realized that it was cleaning pollen off its face. The yellow spots you see on it are bits of pollen from the lavatera flowers. At the same time the bee is grabbing onto a corner of the leaf.

And here, after raking the pollen from their head, using the forelegs, for about a minute, the bee seems to be rubbing its mandibles on the edge of the leaf. All of its legs are extended.

After the honey bee passed the pollen from its head to its midlegs, the midlegs pass the pollen to its baskets (you don't see them yet, until more pollen is gathered). The midlegs also gathered pollen sticking to the thoracic body hairs.

Now this bee is ready for more nectar!

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