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Genius Bees Force Plants to Bloom by Biting Them

Mother Nature is adapting to climate change as best as she can. Bumblebees are waking up earlier in the year now, before the flowers they depend on blossom. Needing pollen, the bees bite the plants, which forces them into earier bloom! Scientists first noticed this bee behavior during an unrelated experiment, and didn't know why bees were biting plants. But they soon found out.   

To learn more, the scientists placed hungry bumblebees into mesh cages full of unflowered tomato and mustard plants. Before long, they found the bees using their mandibles to pierce the plants. The team also tried to replicate the bees’ moves by taking razor blades to the plants’ leaves.

The experiment found that all of the punctured plants bloomed more quickly, but the ones the bees damaged produced flowers weeks earlier than the ones the scientists cut. For tomato plants, it was 30 days while mustard plants damaged by the bees saw flowers bloom 14 days earlier.

This suggests that either a chemical in the bees saliva speeds the flowering process, “or our manual imitation of the damage wasn’t accurate enough,” Consuelo De Moraes, a study co-author a professor at the university ETH Zürich and study author, said in a statement.

Maybe that's why my tulips bloomed in March this year, instead of April as they used to. Read more about this discovery at Earther.

(Image credit: Kabir Bakie)


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Not a total surprise. Sufficient stress will cause many plants to flower and produce fruit. This, in a philosophical sense, is normal. As the plant feels the end may be near reproduction is hastened to continue the family tree, pun fully intended.
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