[You can click the photos for a larger view]
And another look.
Pollination happens by chance as the bees are really looking for nectar. Pollination is their main "job" nowadays, as beekeepers can earn more by renting their hives to farmers (moving from field to field) than they can from the honey that bees produce.
About half of the total income earned by beekeepers in the USA comes from hives rented for about one month in the spring, to pollinate the almond crops in California!
But another useful product comes from this pollen. Not only do the bees eat pollen, but clever traps scrape the little balls of pollen off their legs, so it can be collected and sold to health-conscious humans.
The pollen trap device forces the bees to squeeze through small holes or a wire screen, which causes the pollen to drop off into a tray. The tighter the holes, the more efficient the trap, but it also slows down the bees and they may suffer from losing the pollen. More production is not better in this case.
People that collect pollen with traps do so for only limited periods of time and then give the bees some time without the pollen trap. This trapping business is only useful when pollen-laden flowers are present.
My stepfather used to eat bee pollen regularly, and was convinced of its healthfulness. The FDA allows it to be sold as food, but cautions that outrageous claims must not be made regarding any contributions to health. Bee pollen is not medicine.
Where's the Excel Math?, you say? Here it is. I want to know the price of pollen. The price in raw form, with no capsules, no tablets, no processing or supplements. So I scanned some websites ...
Source 1: 8 ounces $12.50
Source 2: 10 pounds $69.00
Source 3: 1 pound $17.00
Source 4: 20 ounces $39.95
Source 5: 454 grams $13.20
Source 6: 21 ounces $18.95
Source 7: 7.5 ounces $12.00
Source 8: 5 pounds $49.50
Q. Graph these prices to show the range of the prices (per ounce) of bee pollen.
A. The bee pollen price ranges from $.43 per ounce to $2.00 per ounce.