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Old 05-01-2009, 09:13 AM   #1
A Bee's Best Friend
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Default Seasons of Life ...Leon Kreitzman

Great article about how bees know what time of day any certain flower will produce nectar,in the New York Times 'The Wild Side'.
Guest Column: Let’s Hear It for the Bees - Olivia Judson Blog - NYTimes.com

Flowers of a given species all produce nectar at about the same time each day, as this increases the chances of cross-pollination. The trick works because pollinators, which in most cases means the honeybee, concentrate foraging on a particular species into a narrow time-window. In effect the honeybee has a daily diary that can include as many as nine appointments — say, 10:00 a.m., lilac; 11:30 a.m., peonies; and so on. The bees’ time-keeping is accurate to about 20 minutes.
The bee can do this because, like the plants and just about every living creature, it has a circadian clock that is reset daily to run in time with the solar cycle. The bee can effectively consult this clock and “check” off the given time and associate this with a particular event.
There is even a resources guide added.
For a discussion about how bees know what to do, and when, see the appropriately titled paper by Pahl M., Zhu H, Pix W., Tautz J., Zhang S. “Circadian timed episodic-like memory – a bee knows what to do when, and also where ” J Exp Biol. 2007 Oct, 210(Pt 20):3559-67.
For circadian plasticity see Shemesh Y., Cohen M., Bloch G. “Natural plasticity in circadian rhythms is mediated by reorganization in the molecular clockwork in honeybees” FASEB J. 2007 Aug;21(10):2304-11.
James Gould quote from Gould, J. L. & Gould, C. G. (1999) “The Animal Mind.” W. H. Freeman, New York.
Leon Kreitzman is author, with Russel G Foster, of 'Seasons Of Life'The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things To Thrive And Survive.
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Old 05-01-2009, 02:20 PM   #2
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A comment at Garden Rants mention of the same NY Times article
Garden Rant: Nature Proves Itself Outrageously Subtle; Human Comprehension Lags Behind

from firefly at
Sweet Pea Chronicle

Great article except for the fact: honeybees are not native to the US, and many of the plants mentioned in terms of the "flower clock" are European also.
So claiming "pollinators (which in most cases means the honeybee)" is not quite applicable in a strict sense. It would be interesting to know whether honeybees are really adapted to pollinating a mix of natives and exotics (marigolds and catmint, for example) on a timetable.
Here in the States there are far many more native bees actively pollinating plants, and some inclusion of them in this article would have been a lot more interesting.
I note the 'erratum' in which the first photo used for the article identified a bumblebee as a honeybee
I found one example of research about bumble bees and internal clocks but so far nothing I can use about solitary native bees. Do you think this might be because hive bees are easier to study?
What do you think about the honey bee being able to adapt to both native north american and exotics?
Seems to me the time keeping aspect would be the same for both once the bee notes the nectar flow.
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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Found this on the book, "How do birds know when to return to their nesting grounds? What effect do the seasons have on our wellbeing, and how does the season in which we are born affect our subsequent life chances?" The cover looks interesting as all get out. No reviews other than editorial on the book at Amazon, Amazon.com: Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive: Russell G. Foster, Mr. Leon Kreitzman: Books Have you read this book? Here's your "Circadian timed episodic-like memory – a bee knows what to do when, and also where", http://www.bienenforschung.biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de/uploads/media/131_Circadian_timed_episodic-like_memory-2007_01.pdf That looks interesting to me. Good find.
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Last edited by Cirsium; 08-01-2010 at 12:43 AM. Reason: Repaired link
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:33 PM   #4
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There is emerging evidence that honeybees plan their activities in time and space (Pahl et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2006). Bees were trained to choose one of two locations in a Y-maze, with one rewarded and one non-rewarded side. The sides had different colors and patterns at different times of day. For example, in the morning the choice was between a yellow vertical pattern (which was rewarded) and a yellow horizontal pattern (non-rewarded). At another site in the afternoon, the choice was between blue horizontal (rewarded) and blue vertical (non-rewarded) patterns. The bees readily learned these contingencies, and then a number of transfer tests were conducted. In each transfer test, a cue type was removed (e.g., color, pattern, location) and some tests occurred at midday (i.e., “removal” of the temporal cue). The bees were able to find the correct pattern shape without the color cue (i.e., at the correct maze location and time of day, the bees preferred the corresponding pattern despite the absence of a corresponding color cue). When a novel maze at a novel location was used, the bees relied on time of day to select the correct pattern and color. These results suggest that bees would be able to forage from different kinds of flowers at different times of day and at different locations based on their profitability. Moreover, when visiting a new location they would be able to select the most profitable flower for a particular time of day. The temporal information is likely from a circadian system because circadian time of day appears to be the temporal variable that most readily modulates memory retrieval of color information (Prabhu and Cheng, 2008a,b). Thus, Pahl et al. (2007) named this type of performance circadian timed episodiclikememory (i.e., discrimination of circadian time, color, shape and location). The use of circadian time makes ecological sense given the nectar and pollen feeding opportunities likely followa circadian pattern. By contrast, an opportunistic generalist feeder (e.g., rats) would be expectedto be tunedtohowlong ago foodwas discovered, rather than the time of day, and there is evidence that foraging decisions in such opportunistic contexts are based on elapsing intervals (Devenport and Devenport, 1994; Devenport et al., 1997).

Correct link to "Circadian timed episodic-like memory – a bee knows what to do when, and also where":
Circadian timed episodic-like memory a bee knows what to do when, and also where -- Pahl et al. 210 (20): 3559 -- Journal of Experimental Biology
The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards.
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kreitzman, leon, life, seasons

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