Honey Bees do the Dirty Work

Honey Bees are incredibly important to people.  They are not from the U.S., but without them we would not have a lot of the food we eat.  This Honey Bee looks clean and beautiful walking on this Purple Coneflower, but let’s take a closer look.

Well, that is quite a bit messier!  The Honey Bee is drinking nectar from the flower.  While she is there, the flower’s pollen is sticking to her- that’s all of that yellow goop you see in the picture.

According to the Great Plains Nature Center, the Honey Bees occasionally groom themselves and remove the pollen from their bodies.  Where do they put it?  Look at this bee’s back legs.  See the yellow blob near its knee?  That is a pollen basket!  The bee stores the pollen in its legs.

Then, when it flies away and lands on another flower, it accidentally leaves some pollen there.  That is how flowers make fruits and also seeds for creating new plants.  When the bee returns to the hive, it empties the pollen basket.  Bees actually eat some of the pollen which is a good source of protein for them.  They also regurgitate (throw up!) the nectar which has now been changed by their stomachs.  The modified nectar is used to make honey which the bees eat to survive through the winter.

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  1. Hiya Mike,

    Thanks for your visit to my macro blog.
    I am a little ambivalent as regards bees at the minute: having yet again had a swarm in our home. Very unsettling. Happens every year and we can’t work out why. Does put you off the beasties though.

  2. What great shots. I do love the bees and am considering starting a small hive on our property. Not so much for the honey but to keep the bees in the neighborhood. Every year I see fewer and fewer bees around. It scares me.

  3. Thanks for the comments. It is true- everyone says that the honey bees have been disappearing. I guess we have a hive close by and I’m planting the right flowers because we have plenty of them!

  4. Incredible shots of the bees!! When my daughter was three or four we read about pollen baskets on the back legs of the bees, and she drew them for days! I wonder if I kept any of those drawings…

  5. Fantastic close-ups of the honeybee at work! As part owners of an almond orchard, my husband and I know how important bees are for food production. I actually also have a close-up of a bee (a bumblebee) on a coneflower on my Today’s Flowers post for today. We thought along similar lines today!

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