The other week on my quick daily inspection of the hive I found that the hive was being visited by bees that I had never in my life seen before. They had white hour-glass patterns on the top of their heads. I expected that there would be an altercation or two. Maybe the drones would appear and push these strangers away or perhaps my lovely ladies would gather around these new comers and make short shrift of them sending them back to where they had come from. In fact not one bee took the slightest notice of these white-headed bees. I wondered if they had come from another hive. Perhaps our hive was more attractive to them. Each day I carried on my inspection of the entrance and found more and more of these white hour-glass honey bees going in and coming out of the hive. They were industrious bringing back pollen packed basketfuls. I knew that I had to find out more information about them and chose to Google to find out what they were. I could find nothing even on the bee forums. The nearest answer was sugar coating from sugar water feed. Our bees however had no sugar water, the weather was hot and sunny and the bees required no extra feed so this wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
I did eventually find out that these were our bees and these markings were caused through their tops being dyed by the pale white pollen from Himalayan Balsam, which lines the water courses, streams, brooks, creeks, canals and rivers in the area. Although the pollen dyes the tops of the bees where there is a small amount of fur on the back of the bees heads, it is harmless. I am also advised that if the pollen from Himalayan Balsam is found and collected by honey bees it makes the most superb honey.
White hour-glass headed bees
… and here is the culprit the flower with the white pollen that dyes the top of the fur heads of the honey bees in a beautiful hour-glass shape or Mohawk .. at least I have found the solution to my white headed bees!!
Himalayan Balsam wild flowers