May
15
2009

Happy Yellow Bumblebee

Delicious nectar...
Delicious nectar...Courtesy flickr
It feels like summer is finally here, and with the warm weather comes swimming at the beach, picnics, and… bumblebees.

A study came out today from the University of Cambridge that shows how bees use “natural Velcro” to cling on to flowers as they drink nectar. The “Velcro” is actually made up of microscopic conical cells on flower petals that allow for an easier grip. Dr. Beverly Glover, the researcher behind this discovery states:

“For bees to maintain their balance and hold on to a flower is no easy task, especially in windy or wet conditions. Evolution has come up with the simple solution of equipping flowers with a Velcro-like surface that bees can get a grip on.”

To test her initial hypothesis, Dr. Glover and her team created artificial flowers out of epoxy resin, half with flat cells and half with conical-like cells. When the petals were horizontal there was no preference, but as soon as the angle steepened, the bees chose the conical cells more than 60% of the time. Real flowers were also tested, this time the bees preferred the spiky surface over 75% of the time. Using high-speed video photography, the team saw that when bees attempted to land on the flat-celled petals, they struggled for grip. However, in all recorded occurrences the bees were able to grip onto the conical cells, allowing them to stop beating their wings and rest while feeding.

So next time when you see a bee sucking nectar from a flower, impress your friends with your knowledge of conical shaped cells and bumblebees!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

maleman001's picture
maleman001 says:

I hate bee But for some reason There are always bees around my backyard witch I hate.

posted on Sat, 05/23/2009 - 3:15pm

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