Bees Visiting Flowers


ON the cliffs at Llwyngwril, near Barmouth, Lathyrus sylvestris grows in large patches, and is freely visited by humble-bees. Where a plant grows in considerable masses, a great number of bees are naturally attracted, and the competition among them becomes severe. In this case the flowers are not sucked in the usual manner, but the bees bite holes through the corolla, and obtain in this way illegitimate access to the honey. Hermann Müller has shown that when flowers grow in any quantity, they are so diligently worked at by the bees that only comparatively a few contain any nectar; it is therefore important for the bees to find out as quickly as possible whether a flower is worth anything or not. These holes, bitten through the corolla, enable the bees to visit the flowers more quickly, and are thus a great saving of time. He also says that, although the bee which first gnaws the hole loses time in doing so, yet the advantage of being able to get the honey from the young and as yet unvisited flowers, fully makes up for the loss of time.


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DARWIN, F. Bees Visiting Flowers . Nature 9, 189–190 (1874).

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