In this week's Today I Learned, National Geographic photographer and conservation filmmaker Clay Bolt explains how a bumblebee's buzz could be considered a superpower—and one far more beneficial than any run-of-the-mill, comic book variety.
Certain plants, including many of the ones we like to eat, store their pollen deep in the flower where bees can't access it. This could be a real problem, since bees play a crucial role in pollinating plants, helping them to produce the fruits we love to eat. No need to worry—bumblebees have our backs. They've adapted a secret weapon aka buzz pollination, or sonication, to unlock that pollen. The bumblebee attaches to the flower and vibrates its muscles with forces up to 30 g's! This produces the buzzing sound and shakes the pollen right onto the bumblebee, which then pollinates other flowers. So the next time you're eating blueberries, thank the bumblebee and its superpower buzz.
Bolt has a lot more to teach you about bumblebees and has partnered with National Geographic grantee Neil Losin to make the film "A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee.” Be sure to check out it out at www.rustypatched.com.
Footage provided by Karl Foord, Day's Edge Productions, and Getty Images
PRODUCER/EDITOR: Laurence Alexander
SERIES PRODUCER: Christopher Mattle