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Calling all bee keepers! Is there interest in pollen analysis (melliso-palynology) for honey?

 
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Location: Paso Robles, CA. United States
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Hello hello fellow permies! I have long been a lurker on this site and experimentor of all things permaculture and have finally gathered the gumption to post on this wonderful forum. Having just graduated from uni this year I wish to keep my academic specialty honed by offering my services as a palynologist/archaeobotanist/ethnobiologist. I have recently set up a pollen extraction lab at my new place of residence and now have the ability to extract and identify pollen spectra found in honey, wax, and bee pollen. It has been a dream of mine to be able to offer this service to beekeepers and other academics in order to add a new piece of information to assist in the study CCD, bee behavior, verification of storebought honey sourcing, or just to see what your bee's like to eat. Anyways, if anyone is curious or interested I would love to talk about it and I am always willing to learn more!
 
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I'd love to hear about your experiences with pollen in honey. How much actually makes it into honey. What we might learn from it. Can you tell if honey has been pasteurized from the pollen.  etc... I don't even know enough, about what I don't know, to even know where to start asking about this topic...
 
Taylor Burnell
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Location: Paso Robles, CA. United States
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Well I started off studying pollen spectra trapped in plaster and such from various biblical cities in Israel, but a few years ago I developed a method for extracting pollen from various non-polar resins used as adhesives in the prehistoric southwest (Pinus, Lac insects, Encelia etc etc). During my time doing all that I honed my own method for extracting pollen from honey, which is chemically a lot easier than non-polar resins, and tested quite a few random samples of honey for various people.
 In regards to the actual data that can be obtained from this type of study, I use various keys and reference collections to identify and get a count of pollen grains (100-200 grains counted per sample usually) then use that information for whatever study i'm performing. The actual amount of pollen that makes it into the honey varies depending on the race of bees and the individual hives, some are better at filtering out pollen that falls into the nectar that they eat than others. I'm not too sure about the pasteurization thing since pollen is actually extremely tough and I'm not sure if it would show much evidence of heating, though if a honey has been illegally imported or something and its origin is hidden it might be centrifuged of its pollen in order to keep people (like me haha!) from discovering and questioning the products origin.
 I do think that if one could keep track of when honey was made and deposited by the hive I can also get much more accurate results for a specific time frame. I theorize that (for example) if a hive dies seemingly out of nowhere I could take a sample of the last deposits of honey and such and indicate what the bees were foraging for prior to the death of the colony, maybe giving some extra clues as to why. There may also be a difference in the spectrum of pollen in bee pollen and the honey made at the same time because of preferences in nectar vs. pollen resource plants and availability of protein and such of each.
  Many many things one can do with it and the sky is the limit.
 
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What would you charge for a service like that? I may be interested, I am starting 3 nucs this year and I have a angel trumpet plant close by. Might be interesting to know how much of that poisonous plant they are putting in the honey.
 
Taylor Burnell
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Location: Paso Robles, CA. United States
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From what I have seen, the few Labs in the US that actually do this kind of work charge upwards of 130-150 dollars a sample given the type of technical work it is. (one has to identify and count individual grains of pollen after a chemical extraction method under a microscope), but to be fair I could do samples for $75- $100 or less if there are more than 2 samples at a time. The angel trumpet is a Brugmansia, right? Those large Solanum flowers (Datura and Brugmansia) have very distinguishable pollen and i'm pretty sure the pollen even has levels of scopolamine and atropine much like the rest of the plant... do the bees seem attracted to the blossoms?
 
Can you really tell me that we aren't dealing with suspicious baked goods? And then there is this tiny ad:
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