Nectar “Robbing”

Bee species can be divided up by tongue-size. The Eastern Carpenter Bee, pictured here, is one of our largest bees. But it doesn’t have a big tongue to go with that body size.
They’re considered a medium-tongued species. They can’t reach into long flowers.
So they cut holes at the base of these flowers.
And suck out the nectar.
Thus they bypass the flowers’ “I give you nectar/you give me pollination” tit-for-tat.

2 Responses to “Nectar “Robbing””


  1. 1 EWA KOZYRA June 13, 2020 at 11:01 am

    I am looking forward to these posts every single day. Please keep up the good deed you are doing, I would like to be getting your posts in my mailbox for decades to come! There are a few blueberry bushes in our back yard and each spring when they are in bloom bumblebees come and cut slits into every single flower. Somehow the blueberry plants get plenty of fruit set despite the freeloaders. Maybe there’s another insect getting involved, or they get pollinated through the slits, who knows?

    • 2 mthew June 13, 2020 at 1:56 pm

      I’m so glad you like these posts, Ewe!

      I bet there are other insects involved! While blueberries can self-pollinate, they do make bigger fruit when cross-pollinated, and a number of bumblebees and other bees go for that nectar. Some of these species are pretty small, especially when compared to bumblebees. There’re at least three wild species of bees that specialize in pollinating blueberries, one in the southeast, one in the west, and one in the midwest/northeast. Some commercial blueberry growers have turned to them instead of honeybees.


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