Dear Readers, my final assignment for my ‘Biology of Survival’ course this year is due in the middle of May, and it involves some actual ‘sciencing’ – we need to design and carry out an experiment on pollinators. Well, this plays to Bugwoman’s main area of interest (as regular readers will have gathered), and my problem is basically sorting out something that can be measured easily, and which will not be too difficult to do. First we have to run the idea past our tutors to make sure that it isn’t completely off the wall, so here are my thoughts so far.
Hairy-footed flower bees are regular visitors to my garden, especially to the flowering currant at the back. These are unusual bees because the males and the females look completely different – the females are jet black, and the males are stripey with white faces. I find this very interesting, and wondered if there was an advantage to the females in being black. One that springs to mind is that black as a colour absorbs heat, and so the females might possibly warm up more quickly in the morning, and be able to get out and about to gather the nectar and pollen that they need to raise their young. These are solitary bees and so they won’t have workers to help, and the males basically just hang around plants waiting to mate with the females.
My hypothesis (or ‘guess’ in my case) is that we might see a higher ratio of female to male bees when the temperatures are cooler, because the females will be able to get out and about more. So, I plan to go out, record the temperature, record the maximum number of females that I see and the maximum number of males, and see if my hypothesis holds up.
The whole endeavour is fraught with peril, because hairy-footed flower bees are only about for a very short window, and the weather this week looks particularly crap – being cold adapted is one thing, but no bee likes flying when it’s wet. But faint heart never won top marks in a biology assignment, so I shall hopefully be giving it a go. It’s so much fun to be actually putting this year’s work into practice, however it turns out. Wish me luck!