Photo of the Week: Pollen from a Bumblebee

Dr Paul Hartley,
Senior Lecturer in Functional Genetics,
Faculty of Science & TechnologyDr Paul Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Functional Genetics, Faculty of Science & Technology

Pollen from a Bumblebee

Our next instalment of the ‘Photo of the Week’ series features Dr Paul Hartley’s image of the pollen from a bumblebee.  The series is a weekly instalment, which features an image taken by our fantastic BU staff and students. The photos give a glimpse into some of the fascinating work our researchers have been doing across BU and the wider community.

The image shows optical sections through a marsh thistle pollen grain taken using a Leica SP8 confocal microscope. Pollen grains have a morphology unique to the flowers they originate from.

Researchers in the Department of Life and Environmental Science are using this principal to establish the foraging range of bumblebees and other important pollinators. This grain of marsh thistle pollen was collected from the pollen sacks of bumblebees foraging in the Purbeck lowland heaths. Marsh thistle was not recorded in the vicinity of the bee but was recorded further afield. This illustrates that bumblebees use multiple habitat areas and wide foraging ranges to find their preferred resources.

This research supports and guides important questions regarding ecology as well as strategies to conserve a wide range of important pollinators.

If you’d like find out more about the research or the photo itself then please contact Dr Hartley.

This photo was originally an entry in the 2017 Research Photography Competition. If you have any other questions about the Photo of the Week series or the competition please email