So here you are, a honey bee seeking nectar from an unopened citrus blossom.
And then your tongue (proboscis) becomes all sticky with pollen, nectar and other particles.
What to do: you, the worker bee, take a brief break and clean your tongue.
This "B" gets an "A" for good grooming and multi-tasking on "C" (citrus).
- The non-native honey bee, Apis mellifera, which European colonists brought to the Jamestown colony (now Virginia) in 1622
- The non-native Satsuma mandarin, Citrus unshiu, is of Chinese origin and named after Unsyu (Wenzhou), China, but introduced to the West via Japan.
What to do:
- Thank the honey bee for pollinating the citrus blossoms! Note that National Pollinator Week is June 21-27.
This "B" gets an "A" for good grooming.
We recently watched a honey bee land on the edge of a planter. "Hmm," we thought. "Why is she landing there? She should be foraging on the flowers in the pollinator garden."
We soon found out. After positioning herself on the planter, she proceeded to clean her tongue. With her legs. That's what bees do. She was removing the pollen and other particles on her proboscis so she could continue functioning well.
Meanwhile, back at the hive, her sisters were engaging in the usual: doing all the housekeeping, storing pollen, making honey, guarding the colony, tending the young, serving as undertakers, and other jobs. Their mother, the queen, was busily laying eggs. She can lay as many as 2000 eggs a day during peak season. The colony needs the replacements. Worker bees usually live only four to six weeks.
What about the males (drones)? They do no work in the hive. Their only job is to mate with a virgin queen. And then they die. (Or as Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, quips: "They die with a smile on their face."
And the worker bee cleaning her tongue on the edge of the planter? Soon, grooming is over and it's back to work. The colony needs her.
Have you ever looked closely at a fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) and seen its proboscis, aka tongue or feeding tube?
If you stay still and don't shadow it while it's nectaring, you'll see the proboscis darting in an out of a blossom.
The late afternoon sun lit up its long black proboscis while it was nectaring lantana and African daisies in our yard last weekend.
It's the little things you don't see a lot, but the little things you remember.