- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Bring on the bumble bees!
In yesterday's Bug Squad blog, we mentioned the unusual first-of-the-year bumble bee sightings at the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park. We captured images of the yellow-faced bumble bees, Bombus vosnesenskii, nectaring on jade, Crassula ovata, the morning of Jan. 1, 2018. They were packing cream-colored pollen.
Bombus vosnesenskii were also out and about at the Benicia Marina--same morning, same day--but on a different floral species: rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis. This flower, too, yields a cream-colored pollen.
But wait! The bumble bees we saw foraging on the rosemary were packing orange pollen, as bright as Halloween pumpkins.
What happened? They didn't get it from the rosemary. It came from another plant, perhaps the early blooming California golden poppies which yield orange pollen (and no nectar).
Rosemary, which blooms nearly year-around in this area, belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae, which also includes peppermint, spearmint, basil, lavender, marjoram, germander, thyme, savory, and horehound. One of the distinguishing features in this family: square stems.
When you think about it, rosemary's presence at the marina is quite appropriate. It derives its name from the Latin "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea."
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
There's been a lot of talk lately about rosemary. Sniff the fragrance of the herb and it will improve your memory. That's what's being said.
Researchers from the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Center, Northumbria University, United Kingdom, discovered that the chemical compound 1,8-cineole found in rosemary is responsible for improved memory function. Their work was published several years ago (June 20, 2012) in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.
In their abstract, researchers Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver noted that "the mode of influence of the aromas of plant essential oils on human behaviour is largely unclear. This study was designed to assess the potential pharmacological relationships between absorbed 1,8-cineole following exposure to rosemary aroma, cognitive performance and mood."
So they gathered 20 healthy volunteers who performed various tasks "in a cubicle diffused with the aroma of rosemary. Mood assessments were made pre and post testing, and venous blood was sampled at the end of the session. Pearson correlations were carried out between serum levels of 1,8-cineole, cognitive performance measures and change in mood scores."
The researchers said the results suggest that "compounds absorbed from rosemary aroma affect cognition and subjective state independently through different neurochemical pathways."
Maybe the old adage, "Stop and smell the roses," should be changed to "Stop and smell the rosemary."
But what about honey bees that visit rosemary? Could this result in better memory for the foragers? For example, would this enable bees to find their way back to their hive more easily? Sometimes bees forage three to four miles away from their colony.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial and an evergreen. It's used as a spice and in soaps and cosmetics. It's also been used for medical purposes.
Could it "bee" that rosemary might improve the brain function of our struggling honey bees?