Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More on pollen baskets

Following up on my post from earlier today about the buff-tailed bumble bee with "pollen baskets" I thought I'd provide a little more detail on what, exactly, a pollen basket is. I've had a hard time understanding the concept myself, but found some helpful illustrations, below (and, if you want to see photos click here to see what Google Images pulls up).

So, the "pollen basket" isn't a basket per se, it's a collection of specially designed hairs on the two rear legs that act like a net to hold pollen. The bee uses combs on the inside of the rear leg to gather pollen stuck to her body, much like a lint brush, which she then moistens with flower nectar to form a lump of pollen which she then sticks into the "basket." A full pollen basket can contain as many as 1 million grains of pollen! Amazing!

1 comment:

Jasmine said...

This is so interesting, thanks Christie. Last week I was watching a German nature show (and I don't speak German so it was kind of hard to follow) on bee colony collapse in the States. If I understood correctly, no one is sure why it is happening though I would hazard a few wild guesses: pollution, pesticides, urbanization.

Wikipedia attributes the following quote to Albert Einstein: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Regardless of whether or not this is true, I'm glad you are supporting bees in your yard!

The bushy tailed bumble is a handsome and noble lady.