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2537Re: [beemonitoring] What Plants are ONLY pollinated by native bees and not by honeybees?

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Jan 3, 2013
      Dear Sam:

      Here is an excellent opportunity for zoo visitors to learn the different between foraging vs. pollination.  Signage should reflect this.  Many bees visit the same flower but the big question is whether the bee contacted BOTH the receptive stigmas and dehiscent anthers while foraging.  Just because you see a honeybee on a flower doesn't mean it's pollinating anything.  The same applies to all native bees.  Lasioglossum and other halictid species have a wonderful time taking nectar from the endangered, Ascplepias meadii, here in the midwest but they NEVER withdraw the pollinarium.

      Jim Cane is right.  Stick to the native species of wild flowers and shrubs that have porose-poricidal anthers requiring thoracic vibration since honeybees can't do that.  If this little garden has a nice, shady component you can add any of our shooting stars, Dodecatheon species (some are now grown commercially and remain pretty robust in a shade garden).  Then there is the matter of "goodness of fit."  After six years of field study we can assure you that Apis mellifera can't pollinate either Cypripedium montanum or its sister species, C. parviflorum (both varieties pubescent and var. parviflorum).  Why?  Apsil mellifera is too being to escape from the orchid's sac by the rear exits (which take the bee under the receptive stigma.  What about the reluctance of Apis mellifera to forage upside-down compared to bumblebees that happily invert themselves for nectar and/or pollen.  Dutchman's breeches ( Dicentra cuccularia) are also grown commercially and can be purchased with Dodecatheon.  Check the original study by Walter Macior and I think you will find that only Bombus spp. are true pollinators.     


      On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM, Droege, Sam <sdroege@...> wrote:


      I have been working with the National Zoo here in Washington D.C. as a bee adviser.   As part of their new outdoor bee and pollinator exhibit they would like to have a set of plants that are only pollinated by native bees and would not be pollinated by honeybees.  

      I can think of plants that are inefficiently pollinated by honeybees, but because of my weakness in pollination biology am not sure of what plants are ONLY pollinated by native bee species. 

      Perhaps some of the orchids?  Super tiny flowers?  Native Wisterias?  I am grasping here....so help me out.

      Are any flowers actually always avoided by honeybees because of the composition of nectar/pollen as opposed to simply the flower's physical characteristics?

      I have copied Elaine Soulanille from the zoo this email so go ahead and copy her on replies.



      Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
      I sink back upon the ground, expecting to die. A voice speaks out of my ear, You are not
      going to die, you are being changed into a zebra. You will have black and white stripes
      up and down your back and you will love people as you do not now. That is why you
      will be changed into a zebra that people will tame and exhibit in a zoo. You will be a
      favorite among children and you will love the children in return whom you do not love
      now. Zoo keepers will make a pet of you because of your round, sad eyes and musical
      bray, and you will love your keeper as you do not now. All is well, then, I tell myself
      silently, listening to the voice in my ear speak to me of my future. And what will happen
      to you, voice in my ear, I ask silently, and the answer comes at once: I will be your
      gentle, musical bray that will help you as a zebra all your days. I will mediate between
      the world and you, and I will learn to love you as a zebra whom I did not love as a
      human being. 

          - David Ignatow

      Bees are Not Optional

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