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Interview 5:35 - 24:24 Play 5:35 - More
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Stephen Buchmann  

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Buzz pollination  

Anthophora 56:36 - 56:54 Play 56:36 - More
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Anthophora 1:25:42 - 1:25:53 Play 1:25:42 - More
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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
26 Sep 1996

    Geography
  • United States
    Arizona
    Pima County
    Locality
  • Tucson
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 32.27581   -110.94146
    Habitats
  • Suburban
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
  • SONY TCD-D7
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Bees
DAT 4
Sept. 26, 1996

Tucson, AZ out in a field waiting to hear buzz pollination

Chuck -in suburban neighborhood -goal to record buzz pollination -dogs, cars, and other neighborhood sounds in bg

1:42-2:47 -ambi -bg of suburban neighborhood, faint roar of hwy, birds chirping

2:48 -SB & CT talking about bee situation (SB amazed hwy is so loud bc they are miles from it)

3:48 SB -We just have to wait by the patches -little Cassia covesii. ...

5:02-5:35 ambi of area -cars and birds in bg

5:35 SB -ah. we've got a buzzing bee. couldn't tell what it was, but I saw a dark bee, possibly a sentras, buzzing, vibrating the flowers. i've lost sight of it now we'll see if she shows up again. hum. don't know where she went. 6:37 This is the one we are looking at here, Cassia, almost identical in color to this.

8:26 SB -With this many plants we ought to be getting some visitation, I don't know what is going on. possibly bc of the intense rain yesterday, it was cool this morning, possibly taking the native ground nesting bees a while to dig out from their muddy nest after the intense rain fall yesterday. So it's worth waiting and watching by these patches of cassia.

G 10:03-12:08 ambi -with a horse, dogs, birds (good bc it creates a very familiar scene, one that many can identify with -so this would be good to emphasize that buzz pollination goes on literally in your own backyard.

12:36 SB -the bees we are after are large. so they are at least honey bee size or bigger. another thing i am expecting to see is the very large black and yellow sunorum bumble bee. it should be on these plants ...that was a fast flying sentras -black and brown. it never landed on the flower, but came in quickly. so it is possibly that we are just a little early yet.

13:20 stop down

13:24 Once a bee comes into a patch you will find that they are spending about a second per flower. they will buzz, they will back off and hover and come back. they will tend to work every flower. they are a little spooky so you could chase them off with the boom. but once they are on a flower you can kind of move in slowly and steadily...

14:18 CT -so, why do these bees buzz pollinate one plant and not another. why don't they buzz pollinate all of the plants?

14:27 SB -They only buzz or sonicate a small proportion of the world's flowering plants. Well actually it is not so small. it is about 8% of the world's plants. but just as I have picked this flower -the cassia flower in my hand, and as we look at it we can see it has 5 petals and t has 5 anthers, the structures w/in the flowers that hold the pollen grains the DNA bearing particles. These are little round spheres and they are hidden away inside here. If you hold your hand up and bring your fingers together and form kind of a cone and imagine 2 holes ¬little pores at the tip of each finger -then you visualize this flower perfectly. And those tens of thousands of pollen grains are hiding away locked safely and sound in those anthers until the bees come by, and then a flying bee whether it is a sentras, a bombas, or a Anthophora, will come up, land, grab onto the flowers tightly with their mandibles, essentially their teeth, and then curl the body around into a tight c posture, and once they have taken up that posture you will hear a buzz. it is like someone giving you the raspberry or perhaps the Bronx cheer, but it produces a very large buzz. and this is literally dumping strong vibrations into the flower itself, and those vibrations set up a kind of resonance. so the bees have literally turned themselves into living miniature tuning forks. once they vibrate the flower it creates just the right frequency and it just blasts the pollen out in the form of a miniature pollen cloud and this happens almost instantly. a bee using this form of buzz pollination or floral sonication compared to bees that can't do it -for example, honey bees don't buzz pollinate. but on crops like blueberries, cranberries, eggplants, tomato flowers, kiwi flowers, those crops that require buzz pollination, something like a bumble bee is able to harvest pollen 4 to 5 hundred times faster by using this buzz pollination. so they go around to these flowers just harvesting pollen very very rapidly. 17:08

19:29 SB -These little yellow flowers are wonderful. Genus cassia, and they are one of about 5 or 6 hundred species in this genus that have the little pres that rewire the bees to buzz pollinate them

20:06 SB -these little yellow flowers, cassia are really great. they are one of a large genus, one species of a large genus, with about 500 species, which has the little pores, the little holes and the anthers that require the bees to use vibration, or floral sonication, or sometimes we call it buzz pollination. 20:33

Waiting for the bees, cars in bg -find a little gray one, but lots of noise in bg (car, plane)

23:15 SB -These little gray bees, with black and white stripes on the abdomen, the genus Anthophora, are really incredible, acrobatic performers. They are very very fast, darting around these flowers, alighting just for a second, sometimes only a few tenths of a second. Producing a single buzz on the flower. Extracting the pollen in the explosive pollen cloud. Pollen hits the bees on their tummy, they scramble around, they scrape it together, pack it on their hind legs. The Anthophora move around very very quickly from flower to flower and from plant to plant pollinating as they go. But we have to remember that the bees are not purposefully pollinating the flowers to produce seeds. They are not aware of any of that. They are simply hungry, and they are trying to collect protein rich food for themselves and most importantly for their larvae, for their young in the underground cells. 24:23

24:26 ambi of bg in the field -big train passing through....

OK 27:09-29:00 ambi -train passing through, whistle of train

OK 33:00-36:40, 37:08-37:43 ambi -bg, waiting for the bees

through 41:41 ambi -cars driving in and out of the area they are in

41:42 STOP DOWN

42:00 -45:04 ambi of bg, waiting for bees

45:05-45:29, 45:48-45:53 buzzing of flies

G (but probably not relating to this piece) 52:03-53:07 FX -truck slowing moving in, gradually gets louder

*G 56:35-56:53 BUZZ POLLINATION! w/high/low buzzing. continues for a couple of more seconds in bg

1:05:49-1:05:54 buzzing -buzz pollination? not as good as 56:35

1:10:00 STOP DOWN

1:11:23 ambi -bee buzz for a half of second, then loud birds, surrounding sound

1:19:52-1:20:41 ambi CT sitting down by the flowers

OK 1:21:06-1:22:10 buzzing bee w/car in bg

1:22:19 SB -That was fantastic. Two buzzing Anthophora on the cassia at the same time. Coming in to vibrate, backing off, hovering in midair, packing the pollen. One eventually landed on the bush to groom itself, take the pollen grains off, put them on the hind legs, and then it flew off for another plant.

1:22:55 STOP DOWN

1:25:42-1:26:00 buzz pollination

1:26:38 (@1:26:54 truck)-1:27:25 buzz pollination

1:29:04 buzz pollination (very faint)

1:30:18-1:30:38 buzz pollination (plane in bg)

1:36:33 official stop down at 9:10am

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