Beescapes – extracting pollen from historical Danish beeswax to explore honeybee foraging

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We extracted pollen from historical honeycomb specimens of beeswax to highlight the potential of beeswax as a source for palynological studies. The pollen composition was explored as a proxy for honeybee foraging in the past. Additionally, we wanted to illuminate the potential of the palynological analysis to provenance the specimens. Danish honeycomb samples from the Natural History Museum of Denmark, dating from the late 19th, early twentieth century were processed and analysed for pollen identification. We used Ellenberg values to represent functional traits for the identified taxa and applied these as explanatory variables to study the variation in foraging environment and plant preference of the honeybees. Our results indicate variations of an agricultural landscape, with bees foraging on plants that are high in nutritional value. We found that information gained from palynological analysis of museum samples may be useful in illuminating details of historical apiology. We present our study in light of the importance of environmental biodiversity in Denmark and its vitality for bees as key pollinators in our ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2288220
JournalPalynology
Number of pages9
ISSN0191-6122
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • Beeswax, biodiversity, foraging, historical period, honeybees, landscape history, preparation protocol

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