Posts Tagged: honey bee
There's nothing like a steaming hot cup of coffee to jump-start the day.
If there's anything better than one cup, it's TWO cups.
Well, honey bees like a little caffeine, too.
Scientists at the University of Haifa, Israel, found that bees prefer nectar with a small concentration of caffeine and nicotine over nectar without those substances. The bees like the amount naturally found in nature and not at the higher, more toxic levels.
A news release posted on EurekaAlert noted that the bees "clearly" favored the blossoms that gave them a little buzz.
What's caffeine and nicotine doing in flowers, you ask? Did someone pour coffee or stub their cigarette in the blossoms? No. Some plant species naturally have a little caffeine or nicotine in their floral nectar.
"Nicotine is found naturally in floral nectar at a concentration of up to 2.5 milligrams per liter, primarily in various types of the tobacco tree (Nicotiana glauca)," wrote communications specialist Rachel Feldman of the University of Haita in her news release. "Caffeine is found at concentration levels of 11-17.5 milligrams per liter, mostly in citrus flowers. In the nectar of grapefruit flowers, however, caffeine is present in much higher concentrations, reaching 94.2 milligrams per liter."
What the researchers did was offer "clean" nectar (comprised of just sugars) and artificial nectar (comprised of various natural sugar levels, coupled with various levels of caffeine and nicotine).
The bees honed in on the spiked nectar.
It's important to point out, however, that the study proved a preference, not an addiction.
And yes, the next step is to study whether the bees can become addicted to the substances.
Honey, would you like a little sugar in your coffee, or a little coffee in your sugar?
Honey bees and ants belong to the same order, Hymenoptera, and occasionally you see them together.
Such was the case today in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Aboretum, as the closely related honey bees and ants foraged in the red-hot poker (Kniphofia galpinii or "Christmas cheer").
These ants? Argentine ants (Linepithema humile). "The Argentine ant is a non-native and a notorious pest," says UC Davis ant specialist Phil Ward, professor of entomology.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is also a non-native (it came over with the European colonists in the 1600s), but oh, what a non-native. We're so accustomed to it being a beneficial insect that we consider it a native.
Hymenoptera ("membrane wing") originated in the Triassic period, a geologic period that existed some 251 to 199 million years ago.
And today in a tiny thimble of time, they shared a red hot poker.
Honey Bee and an Ant
Nectaring on Lavender
Definitely a good dose of Christmas Cheer!
In the plant world, that would be the Kniphofia “Christmas Cheer," also known as "red-hot poker."
On a visit last week to the Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum, we encountered a lone honey bee foraging among the Christmas Cheer.
This one probably came from a nearby hive at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility tended by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the facility.
Christmas Cheer is an Arboretum All=Star.
And so is the honey bee: an all-star.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Cleaning Her Tongue
A brush with a honey bee...
A brush with a hummingbird...
When we visited the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden recently, honey bees were nectaring the mutton bird sedge (Carex trifeda), a New Zealand native known for its upright floral spikes that resemble golden bottle brushes.
Indeed, the mutton bird sedge reminds us of the red bottlebrush tree (Callistemon spp.), a native of nearby Australia.
Both attract their share of nectar lovers.
Bee and Mutton Bird Sedge
Hear the buzz?
That's the sound of a honey bee's wings moving at about 11,400 times per minute.
As a field bee, the worker bee lives only several weeks during the peak nectaring season. She can fly four to five miles a day, at a speed of about 15 miles per hour. When her wings (she has four) fray and wear out, she can no longer fly.
We recently spotted a honey bee with very ragged wings nectaring lantana and another nectaring lavender.
A world of difference between the wings.
For more information on honey bees, check out the UC Davis bee biology Web site and the links page.