Friday, 18 December 2015

Headbanging Aussie bee takes a heavy metal approach to pollination

Research has for the first time revealed the heavy metal secret behind an Australian bee's unique approach to pollination: High-speed headbanging

Date:December 14, 2015
Source:RMIT University

Research has for the first time revealed the heavy metal secret behind an Australian bee's unique approach to pollination: high-speed headbanging.

In an effort that would put metal fans to shame, the native blue-banded bee has been filmed head banging flowers up to 350 times a second.

The technique causes vibrations that release pollen into the air similar to the motion of a salt and pepper shaker, helping pollinate the flower.

More than just a biological curiosity, the discovery could open the door to advances in areas ranging from improving the efficiency of certain crop pollination to better understanding muscular stress and the development of miniature flying robots.

The joint RMIT, University of Adelaide, Harvard University and University of California, Davis study compared the pollination techniques of Australian native blue banded bees with North American bumblebees, which are commonly used overseas to commercially pollinate tomato plants.

While their American counterparts grabbed the anther of the tomato plant flower with their mandibles before tensing their wing muscles to shake the pollen out, super slow motion footage revealed the bee from down under prefers a "hands-free" approach.

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