The flowers were blooming, and the bees kissed them every now and then. It was a competition among the flowers, as they all had a strong desire to be pollinated, so they could reproduce and the bees would only visit the most attractive flowers. Some bees only collect nectar (used for feeding the adult bees), while other bees will collect both nectar and pollen (used for rearing the baby bees) on the same trip. Bees have fuzzy, hairy bodies that pollen sticks to when they drop by to visit their flower friends. Their hind legs are anatomically designed for pollen production containing pollen combs, pollen rakes, a pollen press and a pollen basket. The bees will use their pollen combs to remove the pollen that gets stuck on their body. Next they do a little dance rubbing their rear legs together to rake the pollen into the pollen press on the opposite leg. The pollen press is a joint that compresses pollen particles into a dense clump for more efficient storage while flying. Pollen clumps are moved from the rake to the pollen baskets on the outside of a honeybee worker’s hind leg. The pollen basket is emptied when they go back home to their hive.
Male bees do not collect pollen, as they don’t have pollen baskets to transport it from flowers to the nest or hive. Pollen is the protein source for the honey bee colony. It is the only protein that bees eat and without protein no young bees could be raised and the colony would die. The nurse bees consume pollen in order to produce “brood food” secretions from a gland in their mouths. Growing larva will always need constant feeding.
Nectar actually begins in the leaves of plants. The plant draws in carbon dioxide and water and produces sugar using the energy from the sun which is called photosynthesis. The sugar flows through the plant to feed it, flowing in much of the same way that sap will flow from a Sugar Maple tree. Roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruit use this sugar supply to grow. Any excess sugar water that is secreted in the base of flowers is a place where bees can go and have a drink.
Worker-foraging bees (hey somebody has to do it) collect nectar by sucking droplets with their proboscis (a straw like tongue). The nectar on its own provides immediate energy in the form of carbohydrate sugars and any excess nectar is stored in the bee’s stomach until it gets back to the hive. Once back at the hive, the nectar is passed from bee to bee. An enzyme in the bee’s stomach turn the sugar into a diluted honey. This passage also helps remove some of the excess water. The un-ripe honey is then stored in comb cells where worker bees fan it with their wings to evaporate the rest of the excess water until it becomes honey. After the process of fanning and evaporation, the nectar will turn into honey, and will be capped over with wax by the bees. Now that this nectar has been turned into honey, it will provide a winter food source for the bees to dip into when they are unable to forage outside for food.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Saturday Mix – Unique Personality, August 24 2019 hosted by weejars aka Sarah where she asks us to write about personification among the flowers and the bees.