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Happenings in the insect world
by Julie Serences
on March 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Are all bees effected by the poisonous plants mentioned by Dr. Mussen or just honey bees? I have read that native bees are not effected by California buckeye(Aesculus californica).
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on March 26, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Good question!  
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology says: "My guess: either the native bees that have been in the areas around California buckeye for a long, long time are not poisoned by the pollen or they have been selected (by death of the other genetic types)to avoid the pollen, that eons of natural selection have adapted them to coexist with California buckeye while using their resources."  
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says: "We know California buckeye nectar and/or pollen is toxic to honey bees from years of experience with managed hives. Toxicity to native bees and other flower visitors is not so easily determined and to my knowledge has not been investigated. The fact that populations of native bees and butterflies visit California buckeye flowers and continue to persist in areas where the tree is a dominant part of the plant community tends to confirm what Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen says about them. Some good research projects here. So we still do not know if it is the nectar, pollen, or both that may be toxic to honey bees, much less to native flower visitors."
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