Every now and then I come upon something that serves to show that there are many, many things that I just do not know. For example – the other morning I noticed a group of bees stuffing pollen from palm flowers into their corbiculae. I did not have any idea what a corbicula was but, once again thanks to the internet and google search I learned about corbiculae and how certain species of bees use them.
This little bee is just arriving at a newly opened palm tree flower. Her corbicula (or pollen basket) is located on the tibia section of her rear legs. It is a concave area surrounded by hairs. In the photo above the basket is empty and only a small bit of white pollen is at the top of the basket.
But the busy little bee gets right to work collecting pollen all along her body.
Periodically she stops and grooms herself pushing the pollen down to her back legs and into the basket area. She mixes in a bit of nectar and packs the pollen in tightly where it is held in place by the surrounding hair. In just a few minutes time the baskets are filled.
Until the accumulated pollen (in this case pure white) bulges out on the sides of both back legs like water wings on a toddler.
Google tells me that a bee can carry up to one half of its’ body weight in these pollen baskets.
The collected mass gets heavier and bigger making flying from flower to flower more and more difficult.
Eventually the bee collects a full load and then she lifts off to return to the hive.
At the hive she scrapes the pollen off and packs it away to feed the family.
See! You do learn something everyday.
Life is good in Ecuador!