13 Jul Common Eastern Bumblebees
A Common Eastern Bumblebee, Bombus impatiens, drinks nectar from the tubular flowers of this delicately scented, lavender Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa.
Flower choices are determined as the bee matches the length of its proboscis with the depth of the flower tube. The proboscis is a tube-like structure that sucks up liquid nectar with lapping motions.
The bumblebee builds up an electrostatic charge when flying. Because most flowers are grounded, pollen is attracted to the bee’s furry hairs— called pile. As the bee flies to the next flower, the attached pollen grains fall onto neighboring flowers. The charged pollen is attracted to the stigma located within the female part of the flower called a pistil; this happens because it is better grounded than the other parts of the flower. This ensures seed production and survival of the plant.
The female bumblebee crawls around flower heads to collect pollen grains which are then placed into the pollen baskets on each hind leg.
Once the pollen baskets on the hind legs are full of pollen, the industrious female worker returns to the hive to deliver her precious cargo like a delivery vehicle. This pollen is carried off and placed in special cells where it is then processed by male bumblebees to feed their larvae.
As bees crawl around the flower tubes, the furry body hairs gather pollen grains that are then carried onto the female parts – called pistils – of other flowers. It is a simple and priceless job. Without the dedicated work of these important, agricultural pollinators, there would be few flowers for us to enjoy, and a lot less food at the grocery store.
Please, ask before you buy! Choose only pesticide-free flowers from known retailers. We can help the plight of the bees by avoiding any products that contain neonicotinoids, proven harmful to all living organisms. Without bees, the produce section in grocery stores would quickly lose over 25 fruits and vegetables.
“Bumblebees are key factors in our wildlife. If they disappear many of our plants will not bear fruit.” Sir David Attenbourough
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Authors: Kathleen Hird Kostner and Ricardo Kostner
© Hird and Kostner | Image reproduction only with written permission from the authors.