Have you ever been at the mall and caught a whiff of hot cinnamon rolls? (I’ll bet you can taste the pungent/sweet flavor right now.) Did you stop and make a bee-line for the food court? Now expand your imagination a bit. Suppose you were a bee, not in search of the latest new fashion, but for the flowers that provide nourishing nectar and pollen. Would you rely more on your vision or your sense of smell to find those flowers?
Yerba Santa appears tiny against the backdrop of mountains
Bees use both. To detect long-range scent cues, bees have about 130 different types of scent receptors in their antenna. (By comparison, humans have about 400 different types of scent receptors.) To detect short-range floral color cues, bees have two compound eyes. Their eyes are about 1/60 as proficient as the human eye in distinguishing objects at a distance.
But the search is worth it, especially when you’re a bee.
Because of air pollution, long-range scent cues do not not travel as far as they used to. Two hundred years ago, floral scent could easily have travelled 1,000-1,200 meters, almost 6/10’s of a mile. But no more. In our polluted urban areas, floral scent molecules lose their aroma when they react chemically with atmospheric pollutants such as ozone and hydroxyl and nitrate radicals. So now floral scents may only travel 200-300 meters, or about 600 to 1,000 feet. As a result, it’s more difficult for bees to find food in our open spaces and parkland and wildflowers do not get pollinated as readily as before.
By Wendy Langhans
It’s as if those Cinnabon stores at the mall were unable to use their ovens. How many customers do you think they would attract through just their signs alone?
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, June 27th, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.
Saturday, June 20, 8:00-10:00 AM. Morning Bird Hike in Towsley Canyon. Towsley Canyon is a year-round home for birds. They like our Mediterranean climate, the local bounty and the California sunshine. Bring your binoculars and meet at the entrance. For map and directions go here.
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Saturday, June 20, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Open House and Family Festival at Placerita Canyon. Celebrating the re-dedication of the newly rebuild Nature Center.
For more information, including map and directions go here.
Sponsored by the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.