“Colorful Dinner” was part of a series of posters I made demonstrating what meals might look like with and without foods that benefit from animal pollination. Here are two of the bees that helped make that vibrant salad:
Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)
Large, fuzzy bumblebees are used to pollinate tomatoes and peppers in greenhouses. Tomato and pepper flowers have special anthers (the male part of the flower) from which pollen can only be released by vibrating the flower. As an analogy, think of shaking salt out of a shaker. Bumblebees excel at creating vibrations to release this pollen in a way honey bees cannot. They unhook their flight muscles from their attachments and vibrate them when visiting tomato flowers. This type of pollination is known as buzz pollination.
Squash Bees (Peponapis pruinosa)
Squash bees are native to the Americas, and specialize on cucurbit pollen (winter and summer squash, and zucchini). Females build nests underground, usually beneath squash vines. Males patrol squash flowers looking for females in the morning, and rest in closed up squash flowers for the rest of the day.