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Happenings in the insect world
by Peter Cross
on March 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM
I'm curious about the toxicity of the CA buckeye pollen. Is the pollen just toxic to honey bees and not to native bees? Would seem to be unusual unless there was a beneficial aspect for buckeye survival in not having bees work over the flowers.
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on March 16, 2013 at 8:08 AM
Thank you for your comment. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, replies:  
Still many unknowns about the toxicity of CA Buckeye to pollinators, especially native insects.  
One blog that tells the story pretty well is:  
We do not know if the toxic chemicals (mostly alkaloids) in CA buckeye pollen and/or nectar have any detrimental effects on native bees (including some bumble bees and long-horn bees) or other native insects (including many butterflies) that visit CA buckeye flowers. Mainly because they are not as easy to monitor for such effects as are managed colonies of honey bees. Our native insects have evolved with CA buckeye and probably have evolved mechanisms of dealing with the toxins.  
The effects on managed honey bee colonies is quite dramatic, often referred to as the “buckeyed” condition, and reversible simply by moving colonies out of the areas where buckeye bloom is the dominant floral resource. But consider that European honey bees have only been in contact with CA buckeye for about 160 years in contrast to our native insects.
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