If you’ve ever observed bees going about their business, you’ll realize that “busy as a bee” is an apt phrase. We might pack a lunch to take to school or work, or carry a picnic along on an outing–but bees must transport their loads of pollen and nectar back to their homes all day, every day. How do they do it?
Bumble bees and honey bees have structures called corbiculae (AKA ‘pollen baskets’) on their hind legs. These are cavities surrounded by a fringe of hairs. The bee grooms pollen from its body and compacts it, often moistening it with nectar, and presses it into the corbiculae. When you observe a bee that appears to be sporting bright yellow saddlebags–that’s a full pair of corbiculae!
Other bees, such as leafcutter bees, carry pollen on their scopa or ‘pollen brush’, an area of dense hairs located on the abdomen or hind legs. Still others utilize the sticky hairs that cover their entire bodies, giving them the appearance of being liberally dusted with pollen!
So as you celebrate this weekend, spare a thought for the bees. From fruits and veggies to flowers and trees–their labor makes our world a delicious and beautiful place. Why not give them a helping hand?