The recent Pollinator Potluck was a celebration and follow up to the popular “Are Pollinator Syndromes Catching?” workshop.
There was a theatrical piece, presented by the “Pollinator Sheriff,” who was investigating some suspicious activity in the area. There were wanted suspects, including a team of Hummingbird Bandits, a collector of plants, a person accused of sticking insects with pins, an organizer of mass proportions, and someone suspected of volunteer slavery. Attendants were asked to question everyone to find out more information.
Bee biologist, Bob Minkley (click to visit his bee lab website which shows cool work done with native bees along the Borderlands), gave a talk entitled: “Pollinators or Pollineaters,” where he uncovered the mystery of generalist and specialist bees, and the chaotic nature of the fight for survival between plants and the insects who pollinate them. His research has shown that generalist bees, or bees that visit many types of flowers are better at pollinating than specialist bees, who have evolved to visit only one or a couple species of flowers. Specialist bees are successful at collecting pollen and keeping it for their young, and less successful at pollinating plants. Female bees, from a plant’s perspective, also fall into this category of not being stellar pollinators. Female bees collect pollen to raise bee babies. The hairs on the female’s body collect and retain pollen. Female bees, thus collect pollen to keep it, not to pollinate flowers. Male bees are less hairy, and as they travel from flower to flower sipping sweet nectar, they happen to collect pollen, which can easily slip off their less-hairy bodies and onto the pistil of a neighboring flower. Keep in mind there are more female generalist bees than any other type, and they do pollinate flowers, so their numbers make up for their poor pollination performance.
Yes, the web of life, where the interconnections are more complex than we often initially imagine. The deeper we look, the more we realize there is still so much to learn.
Thank you to those who brought Pollinator inspired food, to those who gave their time to share more information about Pollinators and to those who ingested the food and absorbed the information presented.