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Author Topic: Red Headed Bees  (Read 233 times)

Offline Ben Framed

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Red Headed Bees
« on: March 18, 2020, 11:29:45 am »
Yesterday I noticed several bees coming in with red heads. This was concerning me. Under a magnifying glass it looked to be simply pollen. I caught a couple incoming workers by the wings and rubbed it off. Has anyone else noticed this?

Phillip Hall

Offline Spur9

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2020, 12:30:12 pm »
Working Henbit and/or Purple Deadnettle.  They girls have to stick their head down into the flower and they get the pollen between their eyes.
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Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 12:50:13 pm »
Several types of pollen are red.  If you have a black light, the red pollen is fluorescent.  Looks kinda cool.

My bee lab has a small black light as some bees with chartreuse eyes are florescent.  Have not found those eyes to date.

Van
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 01:00:48 pm »
My girls have also been coming home with red pollen on their faces.  Not sure why they seem to do a poor job cleaning it off of themselves compared to other colors of pollen.  Or maybe they don't clean off their faces well all the time, and the red is just more noticeable against the color of their bodies.       
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 01:26:21 pm »
> My girls have also been coming home with red pollen on their faces.  Not sure why they seem to do a poor job cleaning it off of themselves compared to other colors of pollen.  Or maybe they don't clean off their faces well all the time, and the red is just more noticeable against the color of their bodies.
>

The same here as you described Member. Our redbud trees are blooming. But this is the first time I have noticed the red on their faces. If it was present last year, I did not notice. The odd part is the pollen they are bringing is mostly a yellowish color. I wonder if they are getting nectar form redbuds or some other red bloom and the bulk of their pollen from other  sources? Does this sound reasonable?

Phillip

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2020, 01:43:21 pm »
The same here as you described Member. Our redbud trees are blooming. But this is the first time I have noticed the red on their faces. If it was present last year, I did not notice. The odd part is the pollen they are bringing is mostly a yellowish color. I wonder if they are getting nectar form redbuds or some other red bloom and the bulk of their pollen from other  sources? Does this sound reasonable?

Phillip
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that foraging bees usually collect nectar or pollen but not both.  Have you noticed if the red-faced bees have pollen pellets on their legs?  (I'll keep a mind on my girls as well and see.)  Because I'm wondering if perhaps the reason why the bees are more messy is because they are at the plant to collect nectar, and therefore aren't really paying attention to the pollen on their bodies, since they aren't grooming themselves to form pollen pellets.     
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2020, 02:40:43 pm »
Member, Agree: nectar or pollen, not both at same time.  Just a general rule, I am sure there is an exception to the billions of bees in US.  I believe mistletoe has red pollen.  I cannot say for certain as the plant is always to high in a tree for me to view.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2020, 09:08:12 pm by van from Arkansas »
Bless the Beekeepers.  Dealing with venomous insects takes courage, patience, dedication and a desire to be with nature.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2020, 02:45:57 pm »
The same here as you described Member. Our redbud trees are blooming. But this is the first time I have noticed the red on their faces. If it was present last year, I did not notice. The odd part is the pollen they are bringing is mostly a yellowish color. I wonder if they are getting nectar form redbuds or some other red bloom and the bulk of their pollen from other  sources? Does this sound reasonable?

Phillip
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that foraging bees usually collect nectar or pollen but not both.  Have you noticed if the red-faced bees have pollen pellets on their legs?  (I'll keep a mind on my girls as well and see.)  Because I'm wondering if perhaps the reason why the bees are more messy is because they are at the plant to collect nectar, and therefore aren't really paying attention to the pollen on their bodies, since they aren't grooming themselves to form pollen pellets.     

I think you are right. Though I did not pay particular attention to the indivigles yesterday, I do not recall that the red heads had pollen, only the others. The idea of red headed nectar gathers, hit me as I was typing in response #4. It was raining here but I will check again between work and rain.

Phillip

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2020, 02:46:49 pm »
Member, Agree: nectar or pollen, not both at same time.  Just a general rule, I am sure there is an exception to the billions of bees in US.  I believe mistletoe has red pollen.  I can say for certain as the plant is always to high in a tree for me to view.

Yes, I think you are both right. when I say they, I mean the bees of the hive in general.
Phillip

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2020, 06:30:17 pm »
Member, Agree: nectar or pollen, not both at same time.  Just a general rule, I am sure there is an exception to the billions of bees in US.  I believe mistletoe has red pollen.  I can say for certain as the plant is always to high in a tree for me to view.

If mistletoe pollen is red, then that very well could be where my bees are getting it, since we have quite a bit of mistletoe in our big oak trees.  Something about mistletoe being parasitic made me totally forget about it as a potential pollen or nectar source.  Thanks for the info, Van.     
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2020, 07:46:45 pm »
>I believe mistletoe has red pollen.

That could very well be right Mr. Van. The thing is, my bees were not bringing in red pollen yesterday. They were bringing in yellowish pollen. Yet some bees from the same hives were coming in with redheads. I was wondering if the red headed bees were possibly feeding on something with red pollen, simply for the nectar itself? I thought it was interesting that some bees might have been feeding on something red for nectar, and other bees from the same hives were bringing in pollen from another source, all during the same time period.

But mainly, and the reason for the post. I was asking about the redhead bees and wondering if any others here have observed seeing this also. This was the first time that I have observed this that I have been aware of.

A question: When bees gather nectar, do they use their "feet" and legs only, or do they use their mouths also burying it deep into the pollen part of the plant? It would stand to reason that when gathering nectar, they would most definitely use their heads and tongues? I realize that my scentific friends will be sure to correct the proper names of the bee parts, and welcome. lol
 
We have had rain today on and off and I have not seen any more red headed bees since yesterday. lol

Phillip Hall



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« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 11:17:30 pm by Ben Framed »

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2020, 08:44:17 pm »
A question: When bees gather nectar, do they use their "feet" and legs only, or do they use their mouths also burying it deep into the pollen part of the plant? It would stand to reason that when gathering nectar, they would most definitely use their heads and tongues? I realize that my scentific friends will be sure to correct the proper names of the bee parts, and welcome. lol
When bees collect nectar they use only their mouths essentially.  They drink up the nectar and it goes into their honey stomach or crop, where they store it to carry it back to the hive.  Whether they come in contact with pollen or not while gathering the nectar would depend very much on the anatomy of the flower, particularly where the pollen bearing structures (called stamen) are in relation to the flower's nectaries. 

When bees collect pollen they use mostly their legs.  Bees get covered in pollen as they investigate flowers, just by moving around in/on the flowers, but bees also build up a positive static electric charge as they fly which causes the negatively charged pollen grains to stick to them as they land on a flower.  (Which is totally amazing!)  Once the pollen is on their bodies, they use their HIGHLY specialized legs to clean the pollen off of their bodies and into their pollen baskets.  They do add a little bit of nectar or honey to the pollen from their honey stomach to make the pollen gooey enough to mold into their baskets, but that is the only step that involves the mouth. 

I learned all this from the book Honey-Maker, by Rosanna L. Mattingly, which is just a phenomenal book on honey bee anatomy.  It's only available directly from Beargrass Press, if anyone is interested in it.                 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2020, 09:03:35 pm »
I wondered about a bee I saw yesterday. The only one with bright red orange mark on her back. I had no idea what it was. Now i know.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2020, 09:57:15 pm »
Thank you member. 

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2020, 07:24:38 pm »
I was able to sit up at the hives for about an hour today and noticed some bees returning with red heads.  All of them had either very small red pollen pellets or none at all.  I did see some bees with larger red pollen pellets but their faces were all clean.  The only rule-breaker was one bee who was very covered in red pollen and had a significant amount of pollen in her baskets as well.  My guess from this information is that the bees that have pollen on their faces were probably carrying nectar, and therefore hadn't cleaned off their faces since they weren't focused on gathering pollen.  Just my hypothesis. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Red Headed Bees
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2020, 11:31:05 pm »

>I was able to sit up at the hives for about an hour today and noticed some bees returning with red heads.  All of them had either very small red pollen pellets or none at all.  I did see some bees with larger red pollen pellets but their faces were all clean.  The only rule-breaker was one bee who was very covered in red pollen and had a significant amount of pollen in her baskets as well.  My guess from this information is that the bees that have pollen on their faces were probably carrying nectar, and therefore hadn't cleaned off their faces since they weren't focused on gathering pollen.  Just my hypothesis.

Member we both may be wrong but I tend to think you are right. If we are wrong maybe iddee or some other more experienced beekeeper than ourselves, will set us straight.
 :shocked:

Phillip Hall