Environment Head-banging Aussie bee takes heavy metal approach to pollination

Head-banging Aussie bee takes heavy metal approach to pollination

Research has revealed the heavy metal secret behind an Australian bee’s unique approach to pollination: high-speed head-banging.

The native blue-banded bee has been filmed head banging flowers up to 350 times a second. The technique causes vibrations that release pollen into the air similar to the motion of a salt and peppershaker, helping to pollinate the flower.

This discovery could open the door to advances in areas ranging from improving the efficiency of certain crop pollination to better understanding muscular stress and the development of miniature flying robots.

The study compared the pollination techniques of Australian native blue-banded bees with North American bumblebees, which are commonly used overseas to commercially pollinate tomato plants.

The research team found that by recording the audio frequency and duration of the bees’ buzz, they were able to prove the Aussie bee vibrates the flower at a higher frequency than overseas bees and spend less time per flower.

This suggests that blue-banded bees could also be very efficient pollinators ─ needing fewer bees per hectare. It also helps with the understanding of pollination methods of bees and their effectiveness, which could ultimately lead to increased agricultural production in Australia.

“We have identified this unique feature of native Australian bees, which is important because we need to get a better grasp of how they pollinate our crops,” he said.

Read more here: RMIT University.