Pollinators part II: now in HD video

Pursuant to the discussion below, I took the 7d out to the front garden this evening to film the sweat bees at work:

As several of you pointed out, grasses are supposed to be wind-pollinated. But the bright colors of grama flowers surely can’t serve any wind-related function. I suspect the bees are giving the pollen an assist- not necessarily by carrying it among flowers but by helping launch the pollen on its way. The video shows pollen streaming into the air as bees land on the anthers.

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “Pollinators part II: now in HD video”

  1. I can not see any reason why any particular supposition may not be partially or completely incorrect. After all, many insects have both male and female and yet are capable of reproducing via parthenogenesis.

    Likewise, this particular grass species may also wear a belt and suspenders – and why not?

    Sounds like a interesting field experiment – set up some plots w bee exclusion and others with bees and check relative seed production per plot.

  2. I agree with Biobob. On the technical side, I enjoyed the video – smooth panning and a stable view of the bees in action. Nice soft background – I’m looking forward to more!

  3. Agreed, the video work is lovely, and one can see the bees dislodging some pollen, though I still think a good puff of wind moves a lot more. It is interesting how slow and deliberate the bees’ movements seem, as though not to dislodge more pollen than they can catch on their belly hairs.

    Also of interest, the aggressive-possessive interactions among some of the bees, cicadas, and a cricket courtship song in the background.

    Nice garden. I still haven’t gotten my native/habitat garden going at the new house. But the last of the construction work, septic tank replacement, is happening as I write, so I can start in earnest this fall. Hurrah!

  4. Cool video! Willows are also supposed to be wind pollinated – lots of exposed stamens, not very colourful flowers and early flowering before leaves appear, but they are often covered in bees. Actually, the main willow pollinators could vary according to each year weather conditions during the flowering season, so bees are more important in dull or rainy years i. Another thing, bee visits do not necessarily has to benefit the grass/plant. Bees are very opportunistic and they will be happy to exploit pollen given the chance, even if it is from non-native species that they are unlikely to encounter outside gardens. I am thinking on the Bombus terrestris and honeybees feeding on Crocosmia in my garden in the U.K., where in their native habitat they are pollinated by hummingbirds.

  5. I always go with the data, no matter my preconceptions (well, at least if they aren’t held too dearly) say. Looks to me like you show the Lasioglossum is capable of exploiting the Bouteloua curtipendula. You would need to show some significant effect on seed set with and without the bees to convince me that they are important in pollination.

    All the gramma grasses (blue and black only) I am familiar with live in open areas where wind pollination would be expected to be effective. I’ve seen honeybees at Paspalum grasses in Brisbane and I would expect to find insect pollination of grasses that live in the understory of forests (where air flow is suppressed) important. Beyond that, I’d say that the comparison of Graminaceae – mostly wind pollinated – and Orchidaceae – mostly elaborately insect pollinated – still holds: there is more than one way to become hyperdiverse, and insects always find a way to exploit it.

  6. Hi Alex,
    very nice video!
    We are using the 7d and also the 5d for our documentary work too, and although they are great tools, it is not easy to get shots like these! Especially not with live animals! Well done.

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