What’s all the buzz about?

What’s all the buzz about?

  Today’s blogpost is brought to you by Lisa Drennen.


My undergraduate research at Webster University involved teaching citizen scientists how to photograph and upload pictures of native bumblebees and non native honey bees. After students in the YCITYSCI program have discussed interests in plants, I am going to share knowledge about insect-plant interactions and some really cool pictures I took while in the field collecting data for my undergraduate thesis research!


Bombus auricomus or Bombus pensylvanicus


Insects distribute pollen for plants in insect-plant pollination or more properly known as Entomophily. Flowering plants are what insects primarily pollinate and almost all of the flowering plants on earth are pollinated by insects. When a bee flies from one sunflower to another, it is fertilizing the second flower with pollen from the first one. This causes the flower to produce seeds and/or fruits and reproduce. Sometimes an insect pollinates a plant on purpose, but sometimes it pollinates the plant just trying to get food for itself. The different insects that commonly pollinate flowering plants are moths, flies, bees, butterflies, and wasps.

Bombus griseocollis

 I am going to discuss more specifically about bee interactions and plants I observed conducting my research within Forest Park in St. Louis, MO summer 2019. Bumblebees and honeybees are known to pollinate fruits and vegetables we eat making them very important to protect and keep alive! If you enjoy eating delicious foods like tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, and melons, just to name a few, thank a bumblebee! Bumblebees buzz at different frequencies in order to be able to pollinate some flowers in what is known as buzz pollination. This is one of the coolest things I learned about bumblebees when studying them! Some plants have pollen packs that are harder to get and so bumblebees have a way of unhinging their wings from the muscles and vibrating their bodies to release the pollen from the plant. The most notable plant that requires buzz pollination to be pollinated is tomatoes. 

Honey bees are more widely used in agricultural practices in the U.S. Honey bees Honey bees pollinate plants such as apples, cranberries, broccoli, and cherries, just to name a few good ones! If you like almonds, you owe it to the honey bee after they are the sole pollinator for this wonderful seed. Honey bees are not able to use buzz pollination to pollinate plants. Despite their inability to buzz pollinate, honey bees are responsible for the pollination of nearly all crops we eat. Honey bees are vital to producing enough food to feed the planet. Most crops would no longer be around without the help of the fuzzy little yellow honey bee. 

Apis mellifera


Photo credit:

All photos and the video of bees were taken by Lisa Drennen, on an Iphone 8 using live mode. 


Additional Resources:

For more information about bumblebee pollination, click here

To view more information on honey bee pollination, click here

For more information on bumblebee buzz pollination, click here