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Plant-pollinator mutualisms and biodiversity

A plant-pollinator mutualism is an association between a plant and a pollinator wherein each partner benefits from the other. Typically, the plant is cross-pollinated with other plants of the same species—a system which mixes the genetic material and creates strong and vigorous seeds. The pollinator gets pollen and nectar—or both—which it uses to nourish itself […] Read more

Can a Texas bluebonnet change its spots?

Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) are prolific in the early spring and are known for attracting an array of native bees as well as honey bees. This species is one of the five state flowers of Texas, the other four being also in the genus Lupinus. (We’ve all heard strange things about Texans, so we’ll just […] Read more

Climate change affects nectar collection patterns

A few days ago I wrote about the need for citizen scientists to collect data on wild bee species. Well, here’s another interesting project—one that deals with climate change and nectar collection. Wayne Esaias, a biological oceanographer and beekeeper from Maryland, has been tracking the dates of nectar collection by his bees for 15 years. […] Read more

Foraging habits of different types of bees

Bees may be grouped into three categories based on their foraging habits. Bees that prefer only a small number of flowering species are known as oligolectic. The advantage to the plant kingdom from this behavior is enormous, since it assures cross-pollination within a single species. A few species of bee are known to pollinate one—and […] Read more

Pollinators and vegetable gardens

Yesterday a reader asked if having a pollinator garden would help her vegetable garden. The answer to this is somewhat complex, depending on what you are trying to grow. There are general rules and exceptions. If you are growing any kind of cucurbit—including melons, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and gourds—pollinators are absolutely essential. Some are notoriously […] Read more

Pollen collection by honey bees

While we normally think of honey bees collecting nectar, an average-size colony may bring in 100 pounds of pollen in a season. Pollen is an essential part of the honey bee diet, providing a wide range of nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. Although a tough outer coating protects the pollen from environmental […] Read more