My name is Dr Margriet Dogterom and am the founder and owner of Beediverse. I write this blog for all who love bees and who want to learn more about these wonderful creatures.
From the ‘News from the world of bees’ Editor Fran Bach. Jan 2017
PICKY EATERS: BUMBLE BEES PREFER PLANTS WITH NUTRIENT-RICH POLLEN
Bumble bees have discriminating palates when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.
“Populations of many bee species are in decline across the world, and poor nutrition is thought to be a major factor causing these declines,” said Christina Grozinger, director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State. “Our studies can help identify plant species and stocks that provide high-quality nutrition for bumble bees and potentially other bee species, which will help in the development of pollinator friendly gardens and planting strips.” According to Anthony Vaudo, a graduate student in entomology who led the study, scientists previously believed that bees’ preferences for flowering plants were driven by floral traits, such as color, scent, morphology or nectar concentration. “Here we show that bumble bees actually choose a plant for the nutritional quality of its pollen,” said Vaudo. “This is important because pollen is bees’ primary source of protein and lipids.”
Thank you Bruce for putting me onto this awesome reference. For anyone interested in identifying bumble bees in the west this is the one to use.
Bumble bees are the fuzzy bees in our garden. Their fuzziness makes them excellent pollinators. Here are a few facts from this Fact sheet.
Bees prefer to forage upside down on these flowers so their hind legs and bee butts are warmed by the dark petals as they drink nectar and collect pollen –
Peter Bernhardt, Ph.D., a professor of biology at SLU and research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney, New South Wales, has been studying reproductive patterns in wildflowers in six countries for more than 40 years and, like most dedicated scientists, thrives on new discoveries such as how bees respond to the color of the flowers they pollinate.
“Remember how you were told that a dark coat keeps you a little warmer on a cold but sunny day?” Bernhardt said. “Some plants blooming in chilly environments have dark purple or almost black patches on their flowers to keep cold-blooded insects toasty warm as they pollinate.”
Exerpt from ‘News from the world of bees’ 14 Jan 2017
Here is a valuable resource. Not does it describe the different groups of pollinators, but which plants are most favoured by bees. This is a great help if you want to make your garden suitable and attractive to bees. Some great photos too.