Pink Lady Indian Hawthorne
“Excuse me…can’t you see I’m buzzy working?”
The Bee-ginning Part I
Springtime is a buzzzy time for bees with all the garden flowers and native plants in bloom, you’re sure to see many honey bees about their buzzziness of collecting nectar and pollen. OK, I’ll stop with the buzzing but first, let me say, that although many kinds of bees grace the springtime flowers, it’s the honey bee, this multi-task worker who is number one in the game of pollination.
“Mmmm, tasty!” Bees visit 10 flowers per minute!
Juicy Red Apple Ice Plant
Honey Bee Pollination and Nectar —
If you were to place a vase of fresh flowers by an open window, eventually the sweet smelling flowers would be found out by a bee scout. After she’s gorged herself on nectar she would return with several family members to check out this new food source. How did the bee communicate to the other bees where to find this lovely meal, which just happened to be waiting for her? Like some of us humans who like to “work” off a meal by walking, the bee, after filling up on nectar, does a dance. This dance is the “language of the bees.”
Basking in pollen from the Hottentot Fig Ice Plant
The Round Dance
May I Have This Dance?
Do you prefer the “round” or the “tail-wagging” dance? The “round dance” is performed when the source of nectar is close by. This dance stimulates the other bees to search only in the surrounding area of the hive but it doesn’t actually tell them which direction to look. The moves of the round dance involve dropping some of the nectar the bee gorged itself on and then going around and around in a circle, both clockwise and counterclockwise. It does this until it has disgorged all the nectar and soon the other bees catch on to where the food source is and fly out to find the vase of flowers.
The “tail-wagging dance” is to locate a distant food source. This dance tells the other bees where to find the food in relation to the sun. Check out these dance moves: First, after gorging on nectar from afar, the bee disgorges a drop of nectar back at the hive then proceeds to dance in a figure eight. When the bee stops and flies in a straight line, it’s telling the other bees the direction to fly in order to reach the new nectar. For example, a straight line at an angle to the left of the sun tells the bees the new food source is about 120° in relation to the sun.
Tasty, Sweet-Smelling Lavender
Childhood Memories of Bees
In taking portraits of these industrious workers I recalled childhood days of hunting bees. At that time, instead of a camera, I used a glass jar with a metal lid that had holes poked into it so the bees could breathe once I got them home — not something I would recommend today. It seemed like a good idea and a way to view these creatures up close and personal; now I realize I had not only displaced the bees from their homes but from doing their appointed job of pollinating and collecting nectar for the hive, not to mention the risk of getting stung!
Honey with Homemade Bread – Yum!
I have a new respect for the honey bee (sometimes spelled honeybee) and the role bees play in pollination; the way they communicate with their tail-wagging and round dances; the intricate designs of the honeycomb; and how honey bees store pollen in little sacks which they carry back to the hive; and most of all, this wonderful, golden, sweet liquid, they make for themselves and we humans to enjoy.
Gathering Nectar on Red Apple Ice Plant
The Bee – End (of part I)
Coming soon —- “Careers changes in the life of the honey bee and the job of the drone.” “The benefits of honey.” “The History of Beekeeping.” “What types of flowers are bees attracted to?” Hint, hint…..notice the flowers in the photos. “How to keep bees from choosing your casa for their casa” and “What to do if you have a hive in your home.”
Article, Photos and Art by Donna Walker of Hearts Pest Management.
Honey Bee and/or Honeybee References:
Farb, Peter and the Editors of Time-Life Books, The Insects, Life Nature Library (Second Edition), Time-Life Books Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, 1977.
Dandant & Sons, Inc., The Hive and the Honey Bee, Revised Edition, Publishers of the American Bee Journal, Bookcrafters, Chelsea, Michigan, 2000