Monday, November 16, 2009

The Rose Family

The rose family, Rosaceae, includes many shrubs, vines, and trees that are important bee plants. They are important to the honey bee, because they are sources of nectar and pollen. These plants are also dependent upon the honey bee and other pollinators to ensure the plants’ reproduction. Without the bees to move the grains of pollen about the flower parts, the plants would not produce fruit and seeds. The rose family makes for a large amount of our fruiting trees. The apple, pear, apricot, peach, cherry, crabapple, and plum trees are each members of the rose family. Each is attractive to the honey bee. Only the peach is able to reproduce itself without the assistance of bees. Most peach varieties are self-fruitful. The serviceberry tree, named for the bright white blossoms used in church services, and the many hawthorns are rose family members that produce berries that are important food for wildlife, especially songbirds. The chokeberry is a rose family shrub that also provides ample food for quail and other birds. Strawberries are roses, as are the brambles: blackberries, dewberries, and raspberries. While many of the flowering roses developed for their beautiful blossoms have petals that block bees from entering the flower, open flowers like the knockout roses and the prairie rose and the multiflora rose found growing along woodlot margins attract great numbers of honey bees.

The fruiting trees and berries, which rely on honey bees for commercial pollination service, are of significant economic importance. The almond, a nut from a tree in the rose family, is a major export of the Unites States. The almond crop is completely dependent upon the honey bee for pollination. It is said that an almond tree without honey bees is merely a shade tree. One half of the managed honey bee hives in America are employed in California each spring to pollinate almonds. Click on today’s picture to see a honey bee unknowingly pollinating a pear while collecting nectar.

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