Buzzing by bees during flower pollination is significantly more powerful than that used for defence or flight, according to a new study from experts at the University of Stirling.
The research found that flower buzzing produced forces of more than 50G – five times that experienced by fighter jet pilots – and provides an important insight into the pollination process.
Dr David Pritchard, of the University’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the study and believes the findings suggest that bees use specific types of buzzing vibrations for certain tasks.
Dr Pritchard said: “We know that bees use their distinctive buzzing vibrations for lots of different tasks and, for this study, we wanted to understand whether buzzes differed by task – or if variations in buzzing were caused by drag on the wings. We found that flower buzzes were much more powerful than those used for defence or flight – suggesting that, rather than being due to drag, bees might have evolved different types of buzzes for different tasks. Buzz-pollinated flowers represent some of our most important economic crops – such as potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines and blueberries – and understanding how bees buzz these flowers also provides an important insight into how these flowers coevolved with bees. This is important because it helps us better understand what these flowers need in order to be pollinated.”