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Electric Bees!

Honey Bee Education

We've all seen bees covered in pollen.  You've probably seen pictures of bees with full pollen baskets (that's where they store pollen on their legs).  But how do the bees actually get the pollen from the flower into their "basket'?  

Bees are covered with tiny hairs all over their body.  As they fly through the air they build up a positive static charge from air friction.  As flowers and trees are well grounded (literally), they have a negative charge as does pollen relative to the air around it. So when a bee comes in contact with a flower, the negatively charged pollen sticks to it. In some cases the pollen actually jumps from the flower to the bee!  The bee may not even have to land directly on the flower but only come in extremely close proximity to pick up pollen. The bee then “combs” the pollen from their body and adds a small drop of nectar and saliva to form a sticky ball that will stay on their legs.

Even more amazingly, bees can actually read the electric field of flowers! When a bee comes in contact with a flower, its electric field actually changes. This change in electric field lasts for around 100 seconds. This signals to other bees that the flower has recently been visited and they will pass it up in search of more "electric" flowers! How cool is that!?

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