Mutant Honey Bees?

I recently noticed some bees with white markings in one of our new hives. Only a small percentage of the bees have the markings, some more distinctive than others.

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of some disease or simply cool looking honey bee genetics at play. The colony seems healthy and thriving. Someone suggested it could be white pollen rubbing off onto the bees’ backs. If that’s the case, I might know where the bees are getting their pollen. I shall investigate. Stay tuned for updates…

UPDATE: The bees probably aren’t mutant after all (darn). This flower is probably the culprit:

Honey bee deep in a Morning Glory (a.k.a. Field Bindweed).

It’s easy to see how pollen could get rubbed onto the bee’s back. (Click the image to see a full view of the flower.) The bees are bringing in light coloured pollen from another source, too — Japanese Knotweed:

It’s an invasive non-native plant and it’s all over the city. I just added more photos of the flowers in the field behind our house to the Bees & Pollen photo album, including this one:

Not a bad time of year to be a honey bee.

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