Pierre Lau is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, where he has devoted his time and effort to studying honey bee nutritional ecology. He started building his academic resume at the University of California, San Diego and California State Polytechnic University, Fullerton with honey bee behavioral and native bee pollination studies. As an emerging scientist in the field of honey bee nutritional ecology, Pierre has studied honey bee salt preferences in water, the types of plants honey bees collect pollen from in urban environments, and colony-level macronutrient preferences.
Listen in to learn all about pollen: how to collect and identify it, how it can be used in forensics, and the tools that researchers have developed to source it from particular plants.
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“The fun thing about pollen and why palynology is a thing is that every species of plant will produce a unique pollen grain to that species. We can play CSI and forensics here: when you look at the pollen that honey bees collect, you can trace it back to the plant that they were actually visiting.” – Pierre Lau
- The different kinds of pollen and it’s structure
- How the FBI uses pollen to find criminals
- How to collect pollen
- Why the process of identifying pollen can be dangerous
- How Lau is helping Texas beekeepers track the source of their honey
- How Nuclear Magnetic Resonance can be used to discover the chemical fingerprint of honey originating in a particular region
- Why honey is one of the top 10 most adulterated products in the United States
“A lot of times when I would sample pollen pellets and beekeepers have a guess about what their bees are collecting, they would be very surprised about what the results actually show. That’s because I think that we are very focused on what we can see: the flowering plants on the floor or shrubs. But a lot of times, the bees will actually go up into trees for their pollen.” – Pierre Lau
- Pierre’s favorite pollinator resources:
- Book: The Biology of the Honey Bee (Mark L. Winston, 1987)
- Tool: Choice tests
- Pollinator: Sweat bees (Family Halictidae)