Saturday, April 4, 2009

Willow in Bloom

In the early spring we see a series of colorful flowering trees. We also see some flowering shrubs and flowers on the ground. For the honey bee, much of its early spring food is out of our easy view. At this time of the year a large portion of the honey bees’ forage comes from trees along the banks of streams and rivers. Much of this area is so remote that it can only be visited in flight, as the bees do. I visited a nearby river and located an elevated road passing through a swamp. Here, I found quite a few honey bees foraging for pollen and nectar high in the tops of willow trees. As we observe the willows in bloom, we see that the honey bees continue to forage from a single type of flowering plant as long as it is in bloom. When its blooming period is over, the bees seek out the next plant to come into bloom. Since most of the plants and trees come into bloom at different times of the year, they share the honey bees’ pollinating service in a type of time-share arrangement. The early spring often finds the honey bees in the river bottoms.

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