Pollinators on the night shift
Nocturnal pollination is something I seldom think about, but this fascinating article by Paul Manning at Poky Ecology describes a host of nighttime pollinators in lowbush blueberry. Really, I had no idea how busy a berry bush in the dark could be.
In a series of experiments, researchers found that as much as one-third of the lowbush blueberry crop may have been pollinated by nocturnal visitors, a population that does not include bees. The research provides another indicator that bees—and particularly honey bees—get credit for a lot of work done by others.
The post also details some of the limitations of honey bees as pollinators, one of my favorite subjects. Since honey bees do not like cold, fog, mist, overcast, wind, or darkness, they are often holed up watching re-runs while everyone else is out working. Still, honey bees remain the darlings of modern agriculture. I often think they have us fooled.
In his post Paul asks, “How can agricultural systems be optimally managed, if we don’t even know the entirety of species acting as pollinators?” My question is similar: If application rates for pesticides are set by using the honey bee as the test insect, how do we know the effects of these chemicals on other insects? In fact, we don’t.
This blog post is well worth a read, and it may very well give you a new perspective on crop pollination . . . and creatures of the night.