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Flowers may use pollen to protect against some bees

by webdev

February 02, 2011

While bees are crucial to the pollination process of many flowers, scientists in Switzerland have recently discovered that they may also produce certain chemicals that protect them from some of these insects.

To conduct this unique experiment, the researchers fed the bees from four different flower types - the buttercup, viper's bugloss, wild mustard and tansy. They then harvested the extracted pollen from the nests, a process which was sure to create quite a buzz.

The researchers fed this pollen to the larvae of other kinds of bees to see if they were affected differently and the results seemed to be surprising.

"While the larvae of Osmia cornuta were able to develop on viper's bugloss pollen, more than 90 percent died within days on buttercup pollen," researcher Claudio Sedivy said in a statement. "Amazingly, the situation was exactly the opposite with the larvae of Osmia bicornis. And both bee species performed well on wild mustard pollen, while neither managed to develop on tansy pollen."

There are approximately 20,000 different species of bees in up to nine different families and they are present on every continent except Antarctica.


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