Carpenter Bees visiting flowers of Melastoma malabathricum

posted in: Bees and wasps, Fauna, Plants, Videography | 6

Sun Chong Hong ‘s edited video below was recorded on 17th November 2013 in slow motion. It shows two carpenter bees taking nectar and pollen from flowers of Singapore Rhododendron or Sendudok (Melastoma malabathricum).

“If I am not mistaken, the first bee is a female Xylocopa confusa and the second is a female X. latipes,” wrote Chong Hong. “The dubbed sound track has the beautiful songs of a Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis).”

Carpenter Bees are large bees, so-called because they construct burrows in dead tree trunks and timber beams that may branch into parallel burrows that run along the grain of the wood. Xylopia confusa has a yellow patch below the head while X. latipes is all black.

These bees practice buzz pollination. Their high pitch buzzing forces the anthers of the stamens to release a cloud of pollen onto the bee’s body. This pollen will be deposited onto the styles of subsequent flowers it visits, thus resulting in cross-pollination.

Besides visiting the flowers of this flower, they also visit the large flowers of Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa) – see HERE.

A challenge is posed to photographers to capture an image of the Carpenter Bee at the exact time when the cloud of pollen is discharged.

Sun Chong Hong
Singapore
November 2013

6 Responses

  1. Sun Chong Hong

    “Their high pitch buzzing forces the anthers of the stamens to release a cloud of pollen onto the bee’s body” – that’s something new to me.

  2. Prof Richard Corlett, formerly with the then Dept of Botany, NUS, used a tuning fork with the right pitch (I presume as the buzz of the bee) and managed to create an explosion of pollen.

  3. Very interesting post! I’ve never heard of “buzz pollination” before. Pretty amazing! I had no idea pitch and vibration could stimulate pollen release. This shows bees are excellent pollinators. Now I find myself wondering if other insects have their own unique ways of facilitating pollination as well.

    I hope we can have more posts like this!

    • Sun Chong Hong

      And I hope more people will come forward to share their observations.

      • Yes, we welcome all contributions. Although we emphasise on birds, we are also interested in all aspects of nature. After all, everything is interrelated and we cannot study birds and close our eyes to plants, insect and other groups of animals.

  4. […] Two species of Carpenter Bees visit the flowers to collect pollen – Xylocopa confusa which has a yellow patch on its back (above) and Xylocopa latipes, which is all black (below). These large bees practice buzz pollination. The bee lands on the flower and its beating wings causes a resonant frequency that triggers the stamens to shoot out their pollen onto the underside of the bee. In this way these bees help in the pollination of the flowers. See also HERE. […]

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