Picky eaters: Bumble bees prefer plants with nutrient-rich pollen

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the habitat

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat

This is an excerpt from on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016:

Bumble bees have discriminating palettes when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.

According to Anthony Vaudo, a graduate student in entomology who led the study, scientists previously believed that bees’ preferences for flowering plants were driven by floral traits, such as color, scent, morphology or nectar concentration.

“Here we show that bumble bees actually choose a plant for the nutritional quality of its pollen,” said Vaudo. “This is important because pollen is bees’ primary source of protein and lipids.”

Read more about this Penn State University study in the on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016

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Soni

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What is Blooming in the Habitat

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

It is blooming in the habitat now.  The plant has beautiful purple-blue flowers and blooms for at least 6 weeks.  It gets 2 feet tall and prefers drier soil conditions.  I always see bumblebees visiting the flowers, as well as butterflies and solitary bees.

MJ