Pollen is the honey bee's source of complete nutrition, containing 20-35% protein, sugars, enzymes, minerals and vitamins. Pollen is essential for the development of young bees.
Pollen from some plants may not contain all the nutrition a honey bee needs. The best sources contain at least 25% protein. The amount of nutrition in pollen is dependent upon the plant and it's growing environment. Pollen nutrition from plants in the same genus is usually the same. A plant that produces a large amount of pollen doesn't necessarily mean it is providing high quality pollen. Plants with pollen that provides 20% or lower protein means a honey bee has to collect more of it to provide for their needs. Plants providing 25% or higher protein mean less work for the foragers.
Pollen color doesn't have much bearing on the nutritive value a plant provides. Plants in the same family tend to have the same color of pollen. Pollen comes in a rainbow of colors from white to black. Here's a short list of plants that provide different colors of pollen collected by honey bees.
Siberian Squill Blue
Sweet Almond Brown
American Elm Grey
Large Flowered Clematis White
Are you providing a colorful bounty for your local honey bees?
Sweet Almond, Clematis and Asparagus photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Peach blossom thumbnail is my own
Nutrition information courtesy of Fat Bees/Skinny Bees a publication produced by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation which can be found here:
For more discussion on planting to attract honey bees and butterflies, please visit our forum: Gardening for Butterflies