Never really noticed it before… Bumblebees have very long tongues! But a study (Science 349, 1541–1544) has shown that bee tongues also tell a tale of climate change; warmer temperatures lead to fewer flowers which in turn yield shorter bee tongues. et al.
When we think about iconic climate change images, we usually picture a polar bear clinging to a melting piece of ice. We (most of us, anyway) don’t think about a bumblebee, flitting about an alpine meadow with a shorter-than-average tongue. Still, it’s a very interesting study, I recommend reading it.
This Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) is having a productive day, you can see that her “pollen basket” (the real name is corbicula) is almost full 🙂
The basket is the bumblebee’s storage, it’s made out of hard hairs on the flat part on its back legs. When she walks around in the flower, pollen is collected all over her body and then she sort of “combs” it into the basket. Only nesting female bumblebees collect pollen, the males don’t have any baskets.
Zoom in on the basket:
A European honey bee (Apis mellifera), covered in pollen from a yellow rocketcress. Look what a happy little bee she is! With some imagination you can even see a smile on her face 🙂
She posed nicely for some shots and then took off, probably in a hurry to tell her friends all about it. When bees have found good nectar or pollen, they fly home and share the news with the others. First, she lets the others taste the nectar or pollen, so they can determine which flower she’s found. Then she performs something called a “waggle dance” which is a particular figure-eight dance. It’s like drawing a map in the air; the dance gives directions (bees have inbuilt compasses and use the sun as a landmark), the speed of dancing indicates how far away the flower is – the faster she dances, the closer is the flower.
PS. Have ever wondered why some bees buzz louder than others? It kind of sounds like the bee is angry, but that’s not the case at all. They typically do this if the pollen is hard to reach, then the bee solves the problem by buzzing loudly, and thereby create a vibration to make the pollen fall down so the she can reach it. A clever solution!
Yesterday I saw my first bee of the year, and not just any bee – I think she’s unusually beautiful, and look how happy she is! 🙂 Covered in fresh pollen from a crocus, just what she needed after the winter.
There were loads of thistle flowers in this field, but all bees were fighting for a spot on these two. Must’ve been particularly tasty! Or do they follow some kind of ‘the busiest restaurants are the best ones’ logic?
f/4 – 1/125 – ISO 200 – 60
He’s so cool with big dark sunglasses, polished shiny wings, carefully combed hairstyle.. No lady bee can resist 😉
f/7.1 – 1/400 – ISO 200 – 60
f/4 – 1/100 – ISO 200 – 60
f/4.5 – 1/160 – ISO 200 – 60