Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Flower's Secret: Candy for Bees

Doesn't everybody love sweets? Bees certainly do.

I suppose you could call flowers pros when it comes to making sweets. They make a nectar that bees love just like we love candy.

Last time we looked at flower pollen and how the bees use it as a food for the hive. We examined the special relationship that flowers have with bees. They need help spreading their pollen and the bees are happy to do that for them.

But why do many flowers also make nectar? It's their secret trick: Advertising.

What? Yes, it helps for flowers to advertise to bees.
There are many, many flowers in bloom in summer and the flowers compete to get the bees to come to them and not to the other flowers. They try to make their nectar smell and taste the best. And it works.

The bees have an amazing sense of smell (they sniff with their antennae) and that's how they find which flowers are offering the sweetest smelling nectar.

The bees come and suck up the nectar with their long tongues. And while they're at it the flower's pollen collects on their fur. That's how flower's guarantee their pollen seed gets spread around.

Almost all plants that rely on insect pollination produce both pollen and nectar.

Nectar looks like water except it's sweet. It tastes and smells like flowers which is what gives honey its special flavour and colour.

The bees are happy to have their nectar but they still have to make it into honey. Next time we'll look at how bees turn nectar into honey.

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