Although insects eat almost any kind of organic matter, pollen seems an unlikely food because it is such an extraordinarily resistant material. Intact unfossilized pollen walls can even be obtained from Mesozoic rocks by dissolving away the rock with strong chemicals. Nevertheless, pollen is utilized by many insects and is essential food for honeybees, Apis melIifera. Somehow bees digest pollen grains even though their walls resist hot concentrated acids, hot alkali, and ravages of aeons. In order to test whether a degradant of pollen furnishes a feeding stimulus for bees, we wanted an extract of ground pollen to test as a feeding stimulus. However, we were faced with two questions. Does the digestive process of bees bear any relation to mechanical grinding or chemical extractions? What does it take to break a pollen grain or to penetrate the pollen cell wall?
Barker, Roy J. and Lehner, Yolanda, "The Resistance of Pollen Grains and Their Degradation by Bees" (1972). An. Paper 218.
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