A few days ago I was asked to remove bees from a tree in someone's yard.  When I got there, I found a large, mature live oak with a lot of bees on it...thousands... but no cavity anywhere.  Hence, no colony to collect.  I'd not seen bees on oak trees like that before, but now that I look around I find them on all the live oaks around here.  They seem to be foraging on those little brown balls that grow on the trees. 

So, my question is this: what are they collecting?  Pollen?  Propolis? I couldn't tell from looking at the foragers.

I was disappointed that there wasn't a colony, but am now curious as to what they're after. 

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Sounds like they are collecting honeydew nectar from the galls. That usually means there is not much else going on to collect from in the area.

I did a Google search and found information on Oak Apple Galls caused by a parasite wasp.  The bees are after the honeydew.  Here are links to a couple of sites discussing them.

http://gardenista.blogspot.com/2008/10/update-bees-in-trees.html

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Trees-739/2010/10/Oak-Trees-6.htm

I makes a low quality honey, from what I understand, and they usually go for other things first. It is like emergency food for them.

Interesting stuff to know... I'd never heard that before.  thanks guys

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