Did you know some plants don’t offer nectar? Did you know some plants don’t readily give up their pollen? Well, I was surprised to learn this. These plants depend upon buzz pollination to complete their reproduction. [Read more…]
Another sign of spring has shown itself in my little woodland. It is the plant known as Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and is native throughout the temperate regions of the United States east of the Mississippi. It was first found in Canada, hence it’s Latin species name.
The genus name Sanguinaria, comes from the Latin sanguis meaning ‘
The species is hermaphrodite which means it has both male and female reproductive organs. It grows in rich, light sandy and medium loam well-drained soil.
When the Bloodroot emerges in early spring, “the stem, leaf, and bud all come up together. The bud is protected by the leaf, which is carefully wrapped around what will become the delicate flower.
The blossoms have no nectar, but the large petals and brightly colored centers attract insect pollinators. Bloodroot is typically pollinated by bees, which transfer its pollen to other flowers. Ants then disperse the mature seeds. A large distribution of Bloodroot within a localized area is indicative of the work of one ant colony, which has been gathering and storing seeds for many years.
If the plant blossoms too early in spring when it is still cold, bees will not be available to assist in pollination. Instead, Bloodroot will eject pollen from its sacs in an effort to hit the stigma of another plant. Like many ephemerals, Bloodroot is able to produce seed independent of insect assistance.” (St Olaf College)
According to an April 27, 2018 article in Buglife, the partial ban on using neonictinoids (neonics) on flowering crops which was endorsed by the European Union (EU) in 2013 has now been expanded to ban all outdoor uses.
According to a December report in 2017, Buglife indicated that half of the rivers and lakes monitored in England as chronically polluted with neonics primarily caused by agricultural and residential use, followed by pet protection treatments against fleas and pesticide use in greenhouses. Both pet treatment and greenhouse use of neonics are being allowed for now.
The hope is that EU Member States will adopt a new pesticide approval process in order to control the introduction of new insecticides suspected of harming bees and other pollinators. However, not all EU Member States voted in favor of the ban, so it’s likely the struggle will go on. And especially so since the USA and other countries appear to be slow in reviewing their pesticide regulation processes.
But there is hope the rest of the world will strive to achieve the EU’s levels of concern for the environment and for our pollinators, and consequently, about one-third of our food source. Let’s hope we’re reaching a turning point.
Thanks to Brendan Carton for making me aware of this happening in the EU through the Pollinators and Native Plants Discussion Group.
Bees need two kinds of food. One we’ve already read about — pollen. The other is honey made from the nectar they gather from their visits to flowers. Nectar is the sugary juice that flowers offer to bees in return for the successful transportation of the pollen the flowers need to fulfill their reproductive process.
How do honeybees make honey?
As the worker honeybee sucks the nectar from the flower, she stores it in her nectar sac (a second stomach) ready to be transferred to the honey-making worker bees in the hive. If hungry, she opens a valve in the nectar sac and a portion of the nectar passes through to her stomach to be converted to energy.
When her nectar sac is full, the worker bee returns to the hive where she regurgitates the nectar to give to the indoor worker bees. They mix it with bee enzyme and pass it mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee until the moisture content is reduced. Once the nectar is placed in a wax cell, it may be fanned by the bees to thicken it even more or sometimes it is left to evaporate more on its own. (The temperature inside the hive is typically 32.5°C .) The honey will contain traces of pollen too. Reference my earlier post on the Pollen Sac. This is the same honey collected by bee keepers to be processed for human consumption.
Once the honey is placed in the wax storage cells, they are also capped with beeswax to await the arrival of newborn baby bees. The wax is exuded from glands which sit between several of the honeybees abdominal segments (she has four). Later, pollen is mixed with nectar to make “bee bread” to feed to the larvae.
Does the bumblebee make honey?
Honeybees make honey from nectar to store as food for overwintering and for their offspring. Bumblebees use nectar for their young as well, but in a much simpler form. Only the queen bumblebees have a winter life cycle.
During the summer while the worker bumblebees are busy gathering nectar and pollen for the next brood of babies, the queen bumblebee feeds and builds up her fat reserves. She, like the honeybee queen, must have nectar to maintain her energy and pollen to provide protein to help with her reproduction functions. Impregnated by some unlucky male honeybees during the previous year’s late summer, she will hibernate over winter. When she awakens in the spring, she will feed from the early blooming flowers and then establish a new nest to begin developing her colony. She will create a nectar pot from which she will feed while she incubates her new brood of female babies.
Like the queen honeybee, the queen bumblebee will rear several broods of baby bees. The bumblebee babies will feed from nectar pots and bee bread created by the growing numbers of worker bees. The nectar when mixed with the worker bee enzyme becomes a type of honey, but it is definitely not the same as the honey created by the honeybee and the one we eat. Toward the end of the summer, the new broods will contain queen and male baby bees and new bumblebee life cycles begin again.
Note: Except for the honeybees and bumblebees, most bees gather only pollen or nectar. However, all bees emerging from their winter quarters, whether honeybees or bumblebees or others, need spring blooming flowers to gather nectar and pollen to maintain their busy life cycles.
For more information on honeybees to PerfectBee.
For more information on bumblebees go to Penn State