News Stories

The Language of Flowers

A researcher has discovered that flowers "wave" at insects to get their attention. But there may not be many bees for them to wave at soon, since the mysterious bee disease has now spread to Canada.

In BBC News, Matt Walker quotes John Warren as saying, "I was lying on the beach watching flowers wave in the wind at my daughter's birthday party, and I wondered why they have stalks and risked getting damaged in such an exposed habitat." So he decided to try to figure it out by observing how much different varieties moved and if flowers that moved more attracted more insects.

But it's tricky. Warren says, "Short, fat-stalked flowers don't wobble enough and are less attractive to pollinators; yet very wobbly flowers are just too wobbly for the insects to handle, as the insects cannot land on them. Only flowers that wobble the right amount are successful in setting seeds."

Bees are dying off rapidly in the US, and now, in some parts of British Columbia, 65 to 90% of the bee colonies have perished.

In the Globe & Mail, Shannon Moneo quotes bee expert Paul van Westendorp as saying, "People don't realize the interdependence of bees and flowering plants, but they have been each other's partners for over 100 million years. When one group goes down, the other will suffer also."

Beekeeper Stan Reist had 400 colonies of bees last fall. In May, only 170 still survived. Moneo quotes Reist as saying, "I don't know of a business that builds in a 60-per-cent loss year after year. You can't recover." Meanwhile, he has gone back to his earlier job as a mechanic.

The next time you take a walk in your garden, wave to the flowers and listen to the language of the birds.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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