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Author Topic: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?  (Read 3110 times)

Offline Scadsobees

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Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« on: July 13, 2009, 02:18:29 PM »
I was looking at my small patch of milkweed lately.  First thing I noticed was a dead bee.  Pulling it out, there was a stink bug that had grabbed it and eaten it.

A week later I was looking at the flowers, and noticed a little end of a bee leg stuck to one.  Then, observing the bees working the flowers, I saw little yellow thingies stuck to their feet.  On some of the bees there were LOTS of little yellow thingies stuck to their feet.



There was one poor bee, all worn out but still alive, that was stuck to one of the flowers and couldn't free herself.  I also noticed a dead bee stuck, as well as a bee thorax stuck to the flowers.




http://picasaweb.google.com/scadsobees/Milkweed#
If you want to see detail you will probably need to go to the album and zoom on the bees, I didn't crop the photos too far because I was afraid of losing too much quality.

I read an article in the American Bee Journal several years ago about milkweed and how the flower has little yellow sticky things that trap the bees feet for some reason.  One bee can have many of these all over their feet.  Most of the bees can pull them loose.

The bees love the stuff as well as the native bees, it seems to produce a lot of nectar, it smells really nice, and we get monarch butterflies and caterpillars visiting.  I just thought that it was really interesting.

Rick
Rick

Offline annette

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 02:37:14 PM »
OH gosh the poor little girls don't have a clue.  Amazing stuff.

I always wonder about some places the bees forage, and I always assume they know what they are doing. Not in this case obviously.

Offline homer

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 08:01:38 PM »
I don't know what the bees think about milkweed, but  I love finding monarch caterpillars and watching them transform into butterflies!

Offline fermentedhiker

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2009, 08:07:57 PM »
The bees are after the nectar from the milkweed.  They can't use the pollen.  Unfortunately for them the pollen has a sort of mousetrap catch to it which locks onto the bees leg and they have to tear the pollen free of the milkweed by sheer wing power.  If they can make it back to the hive their sisters will help remove it, but sometimes from visiting multiple flowers they'll have so many attached to them that they can't take off.  Isn't nature amazing!!
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Offline dragonfly

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 06:58:11 PM »
I have two "wild" species of milkweed here, and the bees love it. I've never noticed any of them getting stuck in it or covered with yellow sticky stuff. Hmm. I need to pay attention. Thanks for the info.

Offline dragonfly

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 07:00:07 PM »
  If they can make it back to the hive their sisters will help remove it, but sometimes from visiting multiple flowers they'll have so many attached to them that they can't take off.  Isn't nature amazing!!

Aha! Maybe that's what bees use for making propolis. :-D

Offline David LaFerney

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 07:20:21 PM »
The bees are after the nectar from the milkweed.  They can't use the pollen.  Unfortunately for them the pollen has a sort of mousetrap catch to it which locks onto the bees leg and they have to tear the pollen free of the milkweed by sheer wing power.  If they can make it back to the hive their sisters will help remove it, but sometimes from visiting multiple flowers they'll have so many attached to them that they can't take off.  Isn't nature amazing!!

Nature is indeed amazing, but this may be a case of two species (bees and milkweed) which evolved in isolation from each other and therefore don't really play together all that well.
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Offline fermentedhiker

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 11:30:30 PM »


Nature is indeed amazing, but this may be a case of two species (bees and milkweed) which evolved in isolation from each other and therefore don't really play together all that well.
[/quote]

I would tend to agree.  It is hardly an effective strategy to kill a pollinator that you depend on.  I'm inclined to think Bumbles have enough power to deal with them.
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Offline Scadsobees

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 09:25:27 AM »
At least very few bees get trapped, and the ones that do are likely the older ones anyway.  Probably more get caught by the spiders and shield bugs that like to hide deep inside the flowers.

On the down side, I've seen a few tiny monarch caterpillars but they keep disapearing...perhaps because of the ants that are shepherding the aphids?
Rick

Offline lakeman

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2009, 01:27:20 PM »


Nature is indeed amazing, but this may be a case of two species (bees and milkweed) which evolved in isolation from each other and therefore don't really play together all that well.

I would tend to agree.  It is hardly an effective strategy to kill a pollinator that you depend on.  I'm inclined to think Bumbles have enough power to deal with them.
[/quote]

The pollinator for the milkweed is the Monark butterfly, the larvae feeds only on the milkweed. Did you know that the milkweed played a vital role during the second world war (WWII)? Because of the many american ships that were sunk, and the aircraft that was shot down into the water (such as President George Bush Sr.) many lives were saved by the lowly milkweed. Before the advent of styrofoam (during WWI and WWII) life preservers were made from kapok, the fibers surrounding the seed on milk weed (and some other plants) were used to stuff the old timey life preservers (along with cork, and balsa wood), matrsses, and sleeping bags.
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Offline yaser al khuja

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2009, 05:46:28 PM »
there are kinds of the Plants Cause the  Poisoning to bees


yk

Offline fermentedhiker

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2009, 10:41:49 PM »

The pollinator for the milkweed is the Monark butterfly, the larvae feeds only on the milkweed. Did you know that the milkweed played a vital role during the second world war (WWII)? Because of the many american ships that were sunk, and the aircraft that was shot down into the water (such as President George Bush Sr.) many lives were saved by the lowly milkweed. Before the advent of styrofoam (during WWI and WWII) life preservers were made from kapok, the fibers surrounding the seed on milk weed (and some other plants) were used to stuff the old timey life preservers (along with cork, and balsa wood), matrsses, and sleeping bags.

Monarch's aren't the exclusive pollinators of Milkweed.

Milkweeds have a unique and fascinating pollination mechanism in which the plant relies on Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and Hymenoptera (bees, ants, and wasps) for pollination. Hundreds of pollen grains are packaged into two connected sacs or pollinia, which is collectively referred to as the pollinarium [see SEM photo at right]. When a foraging insect lands on a flower, the pollinarium can easily attach itself to its leg. Once removed from the flower, the pollinia actually re-orient as the translator arms bend as they dry. Upon landing on another flower, the properly oriented pollinarium is deposited into a receptive stigmatic groove where the pollinia breaks down and the pollen germinates, growing pollen tubes through the stigma to the ovules in the ovary.
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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2009, 11:01:22 PM »
At least very few bees get trapped, and the ones that do are likely the older ones anyway.  Probably more get caught by the spiders and shield bugs that like to hide deep inside the flowers.

On the down side, I've seen a few tiny monarch caterpillars but they keep disapearing...perhaps because of the ants that are shepherding the aphids?


Interesting scads. I've seen several small caterpillars also, and they are gone within a day or two. I have noticed more ants this year also.
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Offline Scadsobees

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Re: Milkweed - blessing...or bane?
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2009, 02:30:26 PM »

Interesting scads. I've seen several small caterpillars also, and they are gone within a day or two. I have noticed more ants this year also.

Its frustrating, I'm sure its the dumb ants(they're leaving the hives alone for now).  There are lots of aphids on the undersides of the leaves, and a constant ant presence.  Occasionally there will be a small hole where a caterpillar hatched and started, but no caterpillar.  I'm putting some granular poison(non-absorbing) below a few of the plants to see if that stops the ants.  I'd really like a few monarch chrysalis's this year.

Rick
Rick