Fascinating fact about bees

There are bees out and about: tiny solitary ones like this one photographed in the park last week, as well as big fat buff-tailed bumblebee queens.

Foraging bees of all sizes usually have a positive electrostatic surface charge. This is frictional electricity, the stuff that makes your hair stand on end when you rub it with a balloon; it is caused by the friction between a bee in flight and the air it is flying through. The charge collects right at the ends of the hairs on the bee’s body.

Plants, in general, are negatively charged and so is their pollen; opposite charges attract, of course. Can you see how neatly this is working out?

Visiting bees don’t actually have to touch the pollen-producing stamens of a plant; the negatively charged pollen, attracted to the bee’s positive surface charge, jumps the space between them. If you enlarge the header photograph, you can see that almost every hair on the little bee’s abdomen and legs has a grain of pollen stuck right at its end, attached by electrostatic force.

Bees are pollen magnets!

Pictures of buff tailed bumblebee taken in the park by DKG;
header picture by Suzanne Humphries;

More about bees in the park:

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