I recently noticed some honey bees with white markings in one of my 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:
It’s easy to see how pollen could get rubbed onto the bee’s back. 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. There’s a fair bit of Goldenrod around the house too.
Not a bad time of year to be a honey bee.
Himalayan balsam does this too. My bees have been on it a lot in August and it puzzled me until someone explained it.