Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some bees

Recently at the arboretum

A nice bumblebee with pollen

This honeybee has collected pollen in the pollen baskets on her back legs, but is also pollinating this salvia flower with the back of her head and thorax. I love the way these flowers have evolved in such a way that the stamens are pulled down to brush their pollen on the bee as she sticks her head down into the flower to get the nectar. Every time the bee visits another flower, she leaves a little pollen from the last flower, and brings more along to the next. This transfer of pollen is accomplished "automatically" by the bee thanks to the adaptive design of the flower.

It's a different matter when it comes to collecting pollen to bring back to the hive. The bees do it deliberately, usually by moving themselves through and around the stamens. Sometimes you can see them using their other legs to secure the pollen in the pollen baskets. Sometimes they get so loaded with pollen, it almost covers their whole body.

Here's a little video clip of bees inside a cactus flower.

Metallic green-backed halictid bee with lotsa pollen.

This swarm of honeybees was about the size of half a beachball. The next day I returned and they were gone.
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