Crucial Corbiculae

July 10, 2020


Photographer: Rob Sheridan 
Summary Author: Rob Sheridan 

Traveling by boat with Virginia colonists, hives of European Honeybees (Apis mellifera) first arrived in North America in the early 1600s. Escapees rapidly colonized the new country and became critical natural pollinators serving the expanding agricultural society. They continue to provide this important service for the nectar (a source of energy) and pollen (a source of protein) that they bring back to their beehive. Nectar is extracted via a proboscis and becomes the main ingredient of honey. Pollen collects on the bee’s body hairs, is moistened with saliva, pushed into corbicula (pollen baskets) and flown to the hive, where it becomes the main ingredient of bee bread (the primary source of protein for the hive’s brood).

This photo shows a European Honeybee entering a common milkweed flower for nectar. This may be its last stop before returning to the hive, as its pollen baskets are full! Photo taken on July 1, 2019.

Photo Details: Camera - NIKON COOLPIX AW120; Software - Windows Photo Editor 10; Exposure Time - 0.0010s (1/1000); Aperture - ƒ/4.4; Focal Length (35mm) - 61.