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Bee larvae—baby bees—need protein, and since pollen is protein-rich, honey bees collect it separately so that it can be fed to the brood. The bee's back pair of legs have spoon shaped hollows surrounded by fine hairs, and these will safely hold whatever pollen the bee puts there.
Some bee-keepers can tell from the colour of the collected pollen which flowers the bees have been visiting.
Bees in Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia have been suffering, since 2006, from "Colony Collapse"; entire hives are suddenly empty, which is bad news for honey producers and even worse news for people who depend on honey bees for the pollination of fruit. Several possible reasons have been put forward for this sad state of affairs—mites, bacteria, or changing weather conditions among them.
Recent floods in parts of Australia have caused reduction in the number of bees—some hives have been flooded out, while other colonies have had no available source of nectar.