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.

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alb's on dandelionFlower Power: The Physics of Pollination, by Marie Davey

Pollination. The word brings to mind the droning buzz of fat yellow and black bumblebees bouncing from blossom to blossom in flower-decked meadows. But up close and in person, pollination is often anything but idyllic. The physical forces involved in pollination can be impressive, and both plants and insects must be well adapted to withstand them.

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YOU’RE A BEE. THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE

Set your meetings, phone calls and emails aside, at least for the next several minutes. That’s because today you’re a bee.

It’s time to leave your hive, or your underground burrow, and forage for pollen. Pollen is the stuff that flowers use to reproduce. But it’s also essential grub for you, other bees in your hive and your larvae. Once you’ve gathered pollen to take home, you or another bee will mix it with water and flower nectar that other bees have gathered and stored in the hive. But how do you decide which flowers to approach? What draws you in?

In a review published last week in the journal Functional Ecology, researchers asked: What is a flower like from a bee’s perspective, and what does the pollinator experience as it gathers pollen? And that’s why we’re talking to you in the second person: to help you understand how bees like you, while hunting for pollen, use all of your senses — taste, touch, smell and more — to decide what to pick up and bring home.

Check out this whole New York Times story. It’s worth the time…

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/02/science/bees-pollen-senses

 

Some flies can detect chemical signals – alarm pheromones – that bees give off when attacked. Some flowers use that to trick the flies –

A researcher at the University of Bayreuth in Germany has found a fascinating example of plants being deceptive to ensure that they are pollinated — and it is thanks to the help of gas chromatography with electroantennographic (GC-EAD) and mass spectrometry (GC-MS). So, let’s look at the deceptive plants and find out how chromatography helped.

Pollination is simply the transfer of pollen from the male anther to the female stigma — an essential process in the fertilization of many plants. Some plants are self-pollinating and don’t need a bee or other insect to transfer the pollen. But many plants do need a little help from nature in the form of a pollinator. The most widely known pollinators are bees, and they are also one of the most important pollinators for plants that we use and eat — which is why the decimation of bee colonies is causing so much concern. To ensure their survival, some plants actively attract pollinators through various methods, not just relying on their attractiveness to the pollinator. For example, some plants send out chemical signals when they need to be pollinated — attracting the right insects at the right time of year. But some plants are not content to let nature take its course and actively practice the dark art of deception to make sure of their survival.

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-flies-can-detect-chemical-signals-alarm-pheromones-bees-give-off-attacked-flowers-use-trick-flies

Many mason bee keepers have spread the word about this exciting hobby through community groups or schools.  Here is a short note on how Environmental Youth Alliance in Vancouver, BC is making a difference.  Program manager Erin Udal writes :

“EYA’s pollinator outreach aims to teach people about native bees and become stewards in their own communities.

We have been working on initiatives for the past 7 years and are leaders in conservation programs and projects across Vancouver.

Each year we raise mason bee cocoons at our Insect Hotel, a large eco-converted telephone booth located at Oak Meadows Park.  We share the cocoons and give away mason bee houses with the community.

We host about 10 workshops each year at schools and community centers in the spring when mason bees are hatching and then in the fall when their cocoons are brought in to be cleaned. Youth love this opportunity to connect with nature in their own backyards, and become stewards themselves with a new mason bee house to look after!   We have photo permission to use this photo for our organization, so feel free to post! “

 

For more information about their work go to Environmental Yimg_3910outh Alliance

 

I added this fun picture because these ‘tubes look so much like nesting tubes’.  Instead they are yummie cookie straws. You can see the chocolate stripe around each cooky.

I was quite startled when I was waiting for my car to get an oil change and the owner went around just before Xmas with his jar of cookie straws.  After I picked one out of the jar, I thought “goodness they look like nesting tubes”.  I quickly took a photo before he vanished with the cookies.  We had quite a few people answer it correctly.  Thanks for participating.  tube-cookies

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