5/23 Observations Round-Up: World Bee Day!

This week we're celebrating World Bee Day! You may be most familiar with bees through the work of Apis mellifera, the European honeybee, but did you know California is home to over 1600 species of native bees? Native bees have co-evolved with our native plants to meet each other's needs. Pollen provides bees with the protein they need to help their young develop. Different pollens provide different amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Different bees need different amino acids, so over generations, they develop a relationship with a flower whose pollen provides the exact amino acids they need, and become specialists: primarily visiting that flower! The Diadasia we tend to see at TPF specialize on cactus flowers. They're fast moving bees- diving into the flower, rapidly circling its center, and picking up a load of pollen on their hairy bodies.

Not all bees are specialists—a great deal visit a wide variety of flowers to get the nutrition they need. One of the most common generalists are the Halictidae, also known as sweat bees. The Agapostemon sweat bees are particularly striking, with metallic green heads and thoraces. California Digger Bees are also generalists: you may notice it visiting the same small, purple flowers of Lilac verbena in many observations on our project. Lilac verbena is very popular with generalist pollinators: its sweet-smelling flowers have pollen and nectar that are easily accessible to a variety of shapes and sizes of pollinator. That means more competition to retrieve those precious resources- so generalists count on there being plenty to go around!

You may notice something suspicious about some 'bees' observed recently... Despite a black-and-yellow-striped fuzzy abdomen and clear wings, the California clearwing (Hemaris thetis) is a member of the sphinx moth family. Their larval host plant are snowberries (genus Symphoricarpos), but the bee-appearing adults feed on many different flowers.

Publicado el 23 de mayo de 2024 por louavery louavery


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