Scientists and aeronautical engineers swear that bumblebees should not be able to fly. But since the bumblebees don't know that, they do so with haughty impunity. Bumblebees are rarely known to sting, and their mandibles are so small a human would scarcely notice it. A large insect of the genus Bombus, bumble bees are large, hairy social creatures, known for their horizontal yellow and black abdominal stripes, bumbling flight and buzzing sound. They are found mainly in temperate climates. Bumble bees are pollinators and are not very aggressive in nature. These features make them attractive to gardeners and research has been conducted on what flower and plant features attract them most.
According to the scientific paper “Mutations perturbing petal cell shape and anthocyanin synthesis influence bumblebee perception of Antirrhinum majus flower colour “;Adrian G. Dyer, Heather M. Whitney, Sarah E. J. Arnold, Beverley J. Glover and Lars Chittka; 2007, researchers have found that bumble bees are attracted to snapdragons with striped petals. They believe the stripes on the flowers serve to direct the bees into the area of the flower where the most nectar and pollen are to be found. The snapdragons also have closed flowers and the large body of the bumble bee is suitable for opening up the petals so the insect can gain access to the pollen.
Flowers containing red anthocyanin pigments were found to be more attractive to bumble bees than white or pink flowers. Anthocyanin pigments give plants and fruits their colors. This means that plants with red flowers or red petals will be more attractive to bumble bees than those with flowers or petals of other colors. A garden full of red flowers should therefore attract many species of the bees.
Wild flowers that produce a lot of pollen and nectar, such as Echieum vulgare, also known as Viper’s bugloss or blueweed, are known to attract bumble bees. These flowers are easy to grow and maintain in temperate climates, and tend to produce more pollen and nectar than hybrid, exotic or bedding plants, so are a good choice for gardeners trying to attract bumble bees.
There are several different species of bumble bee, each with a different tongue length. A variety of shapes and sizes of flowers will attract different species of bumble bee. Gardens containing flowers with short, single petals suitable for the shorter-tongued species as well as longer, tubular flowers more suitable for species with long tongues should house a large population of bumble bees. The bees are active year-round, so perennials are a good choice for them. Gardens that have a variety of pollen and nectar-rich plants available in each season will be attractive to them.
- Science Direct:" Correlations between anthocyanin chemistry and pollination ecology in the polemoniaceae" ; Jeffrey B. Harborne and Dale M. Smith; 1978,2003
- Springer Link:“Mutations perturbing petal cell shape and anthocyanin synthesis influence bumblebee perception of Antirrhinum majus flower colour “;Adrian G. Dyer, Heather M. Whitney, Sarah E. J. Arnold, Beverley J. Glover and Lars Chittka; 2007
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