As well as being an artist I am a beekeeper. It is a fascinating hobby and one which keeps me completely connected with the environment and the natural world.
As a beekeeper you become acutely aware of the changing seasons – the weather, the temperature and what plants are available or about to become available for the bees to forage for nectar and pollen which they use to feed themselves and their young as well as make honey which is their winter food supply.
Pollen comes in so many different colours – I had no idea until I started keeping bees. By watching the bees come back to the hive from a foraging trip you can get a good idea of which plants they have been visiting by the colour of the pollen they are carrying on their legs. At the moment my bees are bringing in a lot of yellow pollen which will probably be from willow at this time of year.
When they start bringing in red pollen you know the horse chestnut tree is flowering and the pollen from poppies is black.
To help identify the different types of pollen I use this pollen chart which is not unlike a paint chart.
There is an artist called Wolfgang Laib who makes the most stunning artwork using pollen. I have admired his work for years – you can read about his work here