Posts Tagged: honey bee
The honey bee nectaring the Penstemon, aka Beardtongue, in Tomales, Calif., didn't seem to mind my presence.
The amber-colored bee was foraging among the purple two-lipped flowers. The plant derives its name from what appears to be a "tongue" (staminode) poking from the "mouth" of the blossom.
It's an attractive flower--indeed, humans hold Penstemon festivals in Flagstaff, Ariz. and Holden, Utah--and the bees like it, too.
The little Marin County honey bee glanced at me and then began cleaning her tongue. Or, as emeritus professor and pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp of the University of California, Davis, said of the photo below: "Caught in the act of cleaning her tongue with the brushes of hairs on the inner sides of her forelegs."
"Even worker bees take time to groom," he said. "Vanity or just good maintenance?"
We like to think she was primping for the photo shoot.
Bee tongue and the Beardtongue.
Cleaning Her Tongue
If there's one plant in our yard that the honey bees don't like, it's the begonia.
Lavender, sage, catmint and sedum? Bring 'em on.
Sunflowers, citrus and pomegranate? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Rock purslane? Like rock candy.
Oh, how about a little begonia, Ms. Honey Bee?
Sorry, not interested.
So were we ever surprised last weekend to see a honey bee foraging on our pink begonia.
See, the begonia isn't exactly a bee friendly plant. It's not like the dearly beloved sage, lavender and catmint.
We told Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a noted authority on honey bees and bee behavior--and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty--of the bee-begonia encounter. "Bet she didn't come back," he said.
"Actually, she foraged for about five minutes," I said.
I imagine, though, that when our confused little bee returned to the hive, her sisters met her at the hive entrance and said (in bee language): "You collected WHAT? You foraged in the BEGONIAS? When there was LAVENDER, SAGE AND CATMINT?"
Update: No bees have returned to the begonias.
Probably won't, either.
Honey Bee and Begonia
Foraging on Begonia
No, it's not a rock band or a new dance move or a new Billboard hit.
It's the name of a worldwide bee organization.
The 41st World Apiculture Congress is meeting this week through Sunday, Sept. 20 in Montepellier, France, and the buzz is all about what's killing the honey bees.
Some 10,000 entomologists and beekeepers are attending the conference and they're worried--and rightfully so.
As Emmanuel Angleys wrote in an article published today: "The Western honey bee is a vital link in the food chain, fertilizing nearly 100 kinds of crops."
"Around a third of the food on our plates gets there thanks to Apis mellifera."
Fact is, we still haven't found what's causing colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady characterized by bees abandoning the hive. Pesticides? Pests? Viruses? Malnutrition? Stress? Drought and other global weather changes?
CCD could very well be a combination of factors. When bees are sick, they simply don't function well.
Just like us. We don't function well when we're sick, either.
And then there are the ribosomes. The damaged ribosomes.
University of Illinois researchers recently found that bees from CCD hives had high levels of damaged ribosomes (think of ribosomes as protein-making machines within the cells).
We like researcher May Berenbaum's comment: "If your ribosome is compromised, then you can't respond to pesticides, you can't respond to fungal infections or bacteria or inadequate nutrition because the ribosome is central to the survival organism."
Ribosome. Compromised. Central to the survival organism.
It's all about bee-ing there for the bees. We need more researchers like Berenbaum./span>
Honey Bee on Dwarf Tangerine Bulbine
The Argentine Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida), also known as the White Rain Lily, White Fairy Lily and White Zephyr Lily, is drawing a few honey bees, but the bees like the lavender and sage best.
The white Zeph is one of the "Arboretum All-Stars," a list of 100 plants that thrive in the Central Valley and stay attractive most of the year. Most of the All-Stars are also drought tolerant, require little maintenance, and are relatively pest free, Arboretum officials say. A few--about 15--are California natives.
You can find the All-Stars (and other plants) at the Arboretum's periodic plant sales; the next sales are Oct. 3 and Oct. 17.
"Bee there" for bee-friendly plants and other selections.
At the last sale, we picked up some sage and a carnivorous plant.
To be honest, we were happy the carnivorous plant died. It ate one of our honey bees.
Honey Bee in Rain Lily
You've probably seen carpenter bees engage in the practice known as "nectar robbing."
Due to their large size, they cannot enter tubelike blossoms such as salvia (sage), so they slit the base of the corolla. They rob the nectar without pollinating the flower.
But have you ever seen a honey bee come along and enter the very spot of a corolla that a carpenter bee has pierced?
We saw a honey bee do just that at the UC Davis Arboretum last weekend.Maybe this UC Davis bee was "smarter" than the average bee?
Carpenter Bee Robbing Nectar
Honey Bee Robbing Nectar