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Why Do Bees Have Pockets? For Pollen, Of Course

Do you like to stuff the pockets of your pants and jackets with things you find during the day? So do bees.

Photo via Shutterstock

That’s right. Some bees, including honeybees, have tiny pockets, called pollen baskets, that they use to store pollen from the plants they visit. When the bees are flying from plant to plant, the pollen sticks all over their bodies.

When the bees are covered in pollen, they are able to use brushes and combs they have on their legs to collect it. They then store the pollen in these pockets.

The official name for the pollen pockets is corbiculae. The pockets are on a bee’s back legs. They are usually yellow or orange.

These pockets make it easier for the bees to collect pollen. It would be very tiring for the bees to have to go to their hives to deposit the pollen after each flower they visit. With the pockets, they can visit 100 flowers or more on each trip.

When the bees collect pollen from their bodies, they push it to the bottom of the pocket. A full pocket can contain up to 1 million grains of pollen!

To help the pollen stay in the baskets as they fly around, the bees mix it with nectar to make it a little sticky and form a pellet. They also have long hairs on their legs to help keep the pockets in place.

The bees bring the collected pollen to their hives, where it is stored in a cell in the hive. It is then eaten by the bees, which rely on pollen as a source of protein.


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