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(I observed this behavior myself, last week)

Bees and Bird Feeders

During the winter and early spring before the flowers are blooming, if temperatures reach 60 or above for a day or two, an interesting behavior takes place among populations of honeybees. Dozens, and occasionally hundreds of bees descend on backyard bird feeders filled with birdseed mixtures that contain millet, which, like pollen, is yellow. If people are able to view the bees up close, they report that the bees are continually moving the millet around with their front legs.

Bee experts believe that the warm temperatures trick the bees into leaving their hives to look for pollen. The bees search for pollen, which is also yellow, but, of course, none is available during the winter. They are attracted to the yellow millet and, believing that it’s pollen, use their front legs to try to maneuver the “pollen” into the pollen baskets on their hind legs.

There is no reason for concern, the bees will return to their hive when the temperature returns to normal and the birds will return to the feeder.

(composed by Linda Cocca, Massachusetts Audubon Wildlife Help Line.)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
that just struck me as incredibly sad for some reason.
Mar. 27th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
Me too. I wish I had a bee feeder filled with pollen. I wonder if I got some at the health food store if they would like it or if it would muddle the whole ecosystem, since it's probably from Indonesia or somewhere.
Mar. 27th, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC)
I wish we had that problem down here. It's bad enough that the bees have been decimated with varroa mites all throughout Texas (ironically enough, the Africanized bees that give beekeepers enough grief seem to be resistant to the mites), but the recent two weeks of cloudy warm days and our recent rain means that the pollen has gone berserk. The trees are going so crazy with pollen that my car went chartreuse, the rainwater last night running down the curb was yellow, and everyone's allergies are going out of control. Hell, I've had my first bout of allergy-related hives in my life, right where my bicycle helmet pads rub against my forehead, and I'm lucky compared to some of my coworkers. Please: send your bees this way.
Mar. 28th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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