Pollinators in the news

Pollinators and flowers are one of the best examples of interdependence.  They show why preserving biodiversity is important.  

Flecked with gold... a fly with hairs for catching pollen, in Hartman Creek State Park, WI
How do you know it's a fly?  Just one pair of wings... bees have two pairs.

Ecologists studied native pollinators in a Rocky Mountain meadow...
"With help from a number of students they tested what happened if they removed the most populous bumblebee species by catching them with butterfly nets, and patrolled the plots to keep them out.
The prevailing view, Dr. Brosi said, ... was that all the other bumblebee species would take up the slack and the plants would do fine. But that was not so for the tall larkspur, a lovely purple wildflower.
Researchers found that the remaining bumblebees became less faithful to one flower species than they had been before the removal of the most numerous bees. They took advantage of less competition to play the field, or the plot."
All well and good for the bees, at least in the short term, but the larkspur, which the researchers targeted for this study, did not do as well because bees that once would have stuck with the larkspur now carried pollen from a variety of other flowers when they visited their once exclusive floral partner.  From NY Times

Bees talk, and flowers listen

Honeybee in Oregon
A close look with a magnifying glass reveals...
Two pairs of wings, hooked together to look like one pair.

"Bumblebees and other insects use buzzing to shake pollen out of flowers for food — and they fertilize flowers along the way. Scientists are exploring this acoustic feat to figure out how it has evolved, and how it helps sustain our own food supply."  

It's not just an accident that flowers release pollen when the bees buzz them.  They have evolved to release the pollen ONLY when they the bees buzz with substantial force.  That way, flowers don't waste their pollen on casual visitors.  It's a kind of communication between bees and flowers.  Who says flowers don't like music?  NY Times source

Hoverfly in Oregon.  An amazing acrobat.

Hoverfly landing on a flower. 
The yellow and black stripes indicate that it's a bee mimic.  It has no stinger, but the stripes make it look dangerous to predators.

Polluted pollen is deadly to bees

"Researchers... collected pollen from commercial beehives and found them polluted with as many as 35 different pesticides, often from fields other than the ones in which the bees were placed for pollination. Healthy bees that ate pollen polluted with the fungicide... were more than twice as likely to be infected by... the parasite implicated in colony collapse disorder."  NY Times
More stories on pollinators coming.  Check back...

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