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Packing Pollen

Nature in Santa Clarita, it’s not what you look at but what you see

-Wendy Langhans

My parents gave me a bicycle on my seventh birthday.  I can picture it in my mind’s eye – a blue Schwinn Tornado – with twin metal baskets draped over the rear wheel.   During the summer, I used to pack those


baskets with books for my weekly bicycle trip to the town library.  I was reminded of this the other day, when I spotted two bright yellow pollen baskets on a bee collecting pollen from a sunflower.


It turns out that the females in many species of bees have a concave “pollen basket” on the outside of their hind legs.  Their six legs function like a pollen-packing machine; each leg has a pollen brush for removing pollen from various parts of their abdomen.  The pollen is moistened with a bit of nectar and packed into pollen baskets, using the pollen packers which are also located on their hind legs.  Back at the hive, this pollen is stored in the comb and later mixed with honey and fed to young bees.


A bee can carry 20-33 percent of her weight in those pollen baskets.  Percentage-wise, that’s a much heavier load than I carried on my bicycle.  The library would only allow me to check out five books at a time.


As an aside, the Post Office is now selling a colorful new set of stamps highlighting pollination.  To see what they look like and learn a bit more about pollination, visit the USPS website at:


Our next hike at Towsley Canyon will be on Saturday, July 21 from 8-10 AM.  Come join our MRCA volunteer for an early morning bird hike.  You might even spot a bee or two.

Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.




You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to tune in to AM 1220.

Packing Pollen

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