How can such a small creature gather so much pollen? About six years ago, researchers discovered something new about flowers and bees. Would you believe electric charges????? It turns out as a bee flies through the air, the friction of the bee’s body parts against the air causes the bee to have a slight positive charge. The flowers that attract bees have a slight negative charge. So when a bee lands on the flower, the bee’s body attracts the pollen to it and the pollen sticks! On February 22, 2013, NPR ran the spot “Honey It’s Electric: Bees Sense Charge On Flowers.” Who knew?
It looks as though (sorry for the pun) bees have 2 eyes – the large ones that we see. These are the bee’s compound eyes that consist of many tiny lenses that piece together patterns that the bee sees, enabling it to recognize types of plants and other bees. However, the bee also has 3 additional eyes on the top of its head. These are called simple, or ocelli eyes. These eyes do not see patterns, but can see light. Or more importantly, these eyes see changes in light, which can alert the bee to predators flying overhead. If you look carefully, you can see one of these small ocelli eyes in the top photo; look at the large eye on your left, then look across the top of the bee’s forehead that has black coloring. At the inner tip of that, almost in the center of the forehead, you will see the leftmost oceilli eye as a very small dot. See it? Well done! You can also just barely see it in the second photo.*
A butterfly eats by extending its tongue like structure, called a proboscis, and using it like a straw to suck up liquid food such as nectar. It drinks water the same way. In the second photo, it would appear that the pollen covered proboscis might be headed toward the butterfly’s mouth to be consumed. I even assumed that to be the case. However, when I did some research, I discovered that what is on the outside of the proboscis is immaterial. The butterfly in the second photo is actually finished sucking up the nectar of that particular flower, and is, in fact, coiling its “tongue” back up into the resting position.
Or do they? These are both pigeons but the brown one is the oddest colored pigeon I think I have ever seen. I’ve seen a completely brown one around the lake, and one that is an all over combination of brown and white, and those two were odd enough. But a pigeon that has an entirely brown body except for his white tail feathers? I have to say that I’ve never seen that before. While this pigeon doesn’t get shunned when they are all hanging out on the grass or on the dock, he often does seem to be wandering around a little separated from the group. And these two, at least for the moment, seem to be distinctly suspicious of each other. Although I may be being anthropomorphic, and they might just be deciding who gets the food.
Here is another one who has a beautiful, but unusual, completely black head, neck and chest. You can see some of the individual ruffled feathers along the left side of his neck. And his legs and feet show up as a gorgeous orange.
Can pigeons even see color? I honestly didn’t know, and so I looked it up (And how easy that is with computers!) It turns out that pigeons can not only see color, they can see millions of different hues. They also can see ultraviolet, which humans cannot, so they are often used in search and rescue missions at sea. Scientists say that pigeons may be better at color detection that any other living animal. Who knew? And here I was, thinking of them as the rats of the air.