Bumblebee Horticulture

Bumblebees are honeybees larger cousin. While more docile than honeybees in their relations with other animals, bumblebees are more aggressive in their floral harvesting techniques.

Whereas honeybees harvest pollen using a rather gentle brushing technique, as do many bumblebees, some bumblebees throttle a flower for its produce: grabbing the floral prize and shaking it to get a pollen shower.

Buzz pollination is just one way that bumblebees have their way with flowers. Another practice by many bumblebees is to hasten harvesting season when facing lean times.

Bees come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the fresh blooms. If they come out too soon and find the flower crop sparse, they pierce small holes in leaves. This provokes flowers to hurry their flowering.

Plants hasten their flowering when feeling stressed, such as facing drought or too intense light. Hungry bumblebees mysteriously learned this and figured out how take advantage of it as an innate behavior.


Foteini G. Pashalidou et al, “Bumble bees damage plant leaves and accelerate flower production when pollen is scarce,” Science (22 May 2020).