Thursday, June 9, 2011

Honey Bee, Honey Bee, What Do You See? Part 2

Cherry blossom, cherry blossom,
cherry blossom...
Now that we've learned about honey bee vision, let's see how they use their special abilities to pollinate, and how you can help them do that!

Because of her excellent vision, the foraging worker bee knows exactly how to find her way back home - even if she's miles away! Honey bees navigate by the position of the sun, which their vision can detect on even an overcast day with just a tiny patch of blue sky showing.

Yum - thank you, bees!
Honey bees also use their 5 eyes to detect the flowers they visit. As the honey bee gathers pollen and nectar from the flowers, she will fly to only one kind of flower on each trip from the hive. For example, she will fly from a cherry blossom to a cherry blossom and then to another cherry blossom. That's a good thing, too, because if she flew from the cherry blossom to an apple blossom, these flowers would not be pollinated and able to bear fruit! This flower loyalty is one of the reasons why honey bees are such outstanding pollinators.

One plant is nice...

One of the best ways you can help the honey bees in your area this spring is to plant flowers for them.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you're
planning your garden:
- Choose flowers that come in some of the honey bees' favorite colors: white, yellow, blue, and purple.
- Remember that honey bees have a fantastic sense of smell, so consider plants with sweet-smelling flowers or herbs with scented leaves. 
...but many plants are even better!

- Because honey bees will visit only type of flower on each trip from the hive, you can help them out by growing several plants of the same kind in one place.

Have fun watching for these remarkable forager bees this spring!

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