Bee Pollen

Safe sites for pollen found, according to reports in ScienceDaily 6 September 2017 and PLOS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182522, 6 September 2017.

When bees visit flowers they will collect pollen all over their bodies and legs. Before they visit another flower the bees may groom themselves and move a lot of the pollen into their crop or transfer it to special structures on their legs to be transported back to the hive and used to feed the bee larvae. This means pollen gathered for feeding the young bees is no longer available to pollinate other flowers, which sets up an apparent conflict of interest between bees’ need for nutritious food for their young and plants’ need to be fertilised.

Three scientists at the Institute of Sensory Ecology, Heinrich-Heine-University, DuÈsseldorf, Germany have tested a theory that there are pollen “safe sites” where the pollen is not removed by the bees, and is therefore available to the flowers. The researchers carefully observed the grooming pattern of bees by placing them in jars containing pollen. The bees behaved like the proverbial “bee in a bottle” and flew around stirring up the pollen, and ended up covered in pollen grains all over their bodies and legs. The pollen-covered bees were then transferred to clean jars and allowed to groom themselves. The researchers found that after grooming the bees still had pollen on their bodies – most in their waists and on the back of the thorax.

They then tested bees with flowers to see if these sites on the bees were contacted by the flowers’ anthers (pollen producers) and stigma (pollen receptors). The scientists marked the anthers and stigma of two species of flowers with fluorescent dye, and then allowed bees to visit the flowers. They found the fluorescent dye was transferred to the same sites where the pollen had remained in the grooming experiment.

Petra Wester, who led the study, summed up the results: “For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated the position, area and pollen amount of so-called safe sites at the body of honeybees and bumblebees. We also showed that these specific body areas bees cannot groom are contacted by pollen-sacs and stigmas of several plant species, confirming the importance of the bees’ safe sites”.

The researcher team suggest more research should be carried out on the way flowers guide bees to take up a favourable position for pollen transfer to and from safe sites when bees visit flowers.


Editorial Comment: So the bees choose to leave some pollen where it is, or they can’t reach their own plant friendly spots? Either way this is a classic case of two different living things meeting each other’s needs. In order to do this, both must have the right structures and behaviour. Bees need to have a hairy surface, well suited for pollen to attach, along with the pollen storing structures for taking it back to the hive. Flowers need to produce an abundance of pollen, and have access to the “safe sites” on the bees’ bodies. This means it is not enough just to attract bees to the flowers with colour and fragrance, the flowers must have the right physical structure and/or specific guidance signals, e.g. colour patterns, that entice the bees to be in the right place for pollen transfer to and from safe sites. Therefore, the researchers are right in wanting to do more research into how flowers guide bees.

This study and any that follow it are good reminders that nothing in the living world works in isolation. God created whole functioning ecosystems that work by cooperation. They only work when living things already have the necessary structures and functions built into them. The processes ascribed to evolution, i.e. competition, selection and survival of the fittest, will not produce any such systems, as these processes do not make new genetic information in bees or plants.

The mutual benefit provided by such systems is also a reminder that God made everything very good. Natural selection and the struggle for life are destructive processes that are a result of the world going downhill following man’s sin and God’s judgement. They are not creative processes, and it is absurd to claim that God used these to create the very good world that was completed before sin spoiled it.

Finally, this kind of mutually beneficial system has to be set up quickly because it won’t work until all the contributors are there. Six days of creation by God who designed the whole system will work, millions of years of chance random processes will not.

Evidence News vol. 17, No. 18
27 September 2017
Creation Research Australia

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