Wednesday, August 08, 2007

BenSpark: Loaded for Bear

Bombus pensylvanicus – American Bumble Bee
BenSpark Photo: Loaded for Bear
Loaded for Bear

The other day I was sadly wishing Wingnut was here while I slowly went through my feeds. I came upon this photo (above) by BenSpark. It brought my feed reading to a sudden stop because of those two yellow sacks on the bee. BenSpark calls them pollen sacks. The photo jogged my memory because of my bee shots from Sunday morning.

In my photos, I saw tantalizing bits of yellow blobs on the bees. I hadn't known what these yellow blobs were because they were so small. BenSpark's photo showed me that I had taken photos of pollen sacks on my bees. That was exciting for me.

But what do bees do with pollen? I couldn't remember. Bees pollinate flowers, but I thought the pollen stuck to their body from one flower to the next. Obviously bees don't pack pollen up in little bags on their legs so that they can toss it about on the next flower as if they were at the bees' Mardi Gras.

The next three photos are mine and, when clicked,
will open in a new window so that you can see them full size. Each photo has a glimpse of a pollen sack.

My photo: bumble bee on wild basil: can you find the pollen sack?

Today I took the time to learn about these pollen sacks.

At Burning Silo: Blog Archive: the bee’s knees I learned that:
Bombus bees collect pollen and have hind legs which are formed in such a way that pollen can be packed into wide or concave surfaces which are usually surrounded by stiff hairs. This pollen collecting area of the leg is referred to as the corbicula. The above photo gives some idea of the shape of the leg if you examine the small bit of pollen that has been collected and is adhering to the left hind leg. When the legs are more fully loaded, the pollen will be quite conspicuous, as in the next photo.

My photo: bumble bee on wild basil: can you find the pollen sack?

But what do the bees do with all that pollen? Burning Silo continues to say that there are two kinds of bumble bees: those that collect pollen and those that don't.

Being the unfocused academic that I am, it took me a couple hours of messing around with bumble bee nomenclature, photos and body parts before I slapped myself and said "Wikipedia!" and there it was:

Bumblebee – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young."

My photo: bumble bee on wild basil: can you find the pollen sack?

So BenSpark, Burning Silo and Wikipedia: thank you!

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  1. That is an excellent post. Thanks for writing it, I learned a lot about Bumblebees and that was very cool.

  2. Great post about bumblebees. I learned a lot. I thought it was really cool that you had your own bee pictures too.

  3. neerrrp Very informative neerrrp neerrrp I enjoyed learning all neerrrp about bumble bees. neerrrp I see them all the time neerrrp but don't really spend neerrrp too much time thinking about neerrrp then neerrrp other than hoping they don't neerrrp sting me neerrrp
    they are really pretty neerrrp cool creatures neerrrp neerrrp neerrrp neerrrp neerrrp

  4. Bees. My bean said to tell you that she loves the bee with the wings open. So do I.

  5. That is absolutely amazing! I love bumble bees and watching them work.
    They are truly fascinating creatures.
    I had fun catching up on your blog today and will be visiting your picture a day blog too.
    I was having trouble loading your blog, but have found that if I go in through blog lines what ever was kept IE7 from loading it seems to correct itself.
    Your pictures a very amazing and I just love every one of them.
    I am sorry to hear it was time for Wingnut to go home. You two were having such a grand time.
    I love the pictures he took and all the things you were teaching him about nature as I was educated right along with him.
    Have you discovered what moth that was on the phlox? Is it a luna moth?

  6. You need lots of patience to photograph insects. They just never cooperate. Good job with capturing those critters where you can see their prickly hairs which help with pollination.

  7. WOW! What an informative and beautiful post! Fantastic pictures and info!!


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