Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A good buzz.

The large, loud bumblebees rummaging through the Pieris blossoms are Bombus vosnesenskii, the Yellow-faced Bumblebee, which is native to the Pacific coast of North America. I identified it here, then googled to find out more. And thus I learned about buzz pollination.

Bombus vosnesenskii.

Bumblebees and some solitary bees latch onto blossoms and move their flight muscles rapidly. The high-pitched buzz shakes recalcitrant pollen grains from the anthers of plants onto the bee's head. Honey bees don't normally do this, and are less efficient pollinators of certain types of plants, including members of the Ericaceae such as blueberries, cranberries, and Pieris.

I went back outside to listen more closely. Yup, bee sticks face into flower, makes a short, sharp buzz like one of those pneumatic wheel-remover things used during auto-racing pit-stops, then moves to the next flower.

Buzz Pollination, bee astronaut.


Wanderin' Weeta said...

Hugh, your photo isn't showing up; all I get is a jpg#.

Hugh said...

Me too. It was working fine this AM. I reposted a smaller version. Blogger has been acting fussy with image uploads lately.