|Melissodes bimaculata collecting corn pollen|
|Maricopa corn, image from Native Seeds/SEARCH|
|Another M. bimaculata, hard at work.|
This morning I was watering my garden, and I noticed something quite unexpected: the Melissodes bimaculata that had been so busy pollinating my squash were now collecting pollen from my corn! As most people are aware, corn is wind pollinated, so it certainly doesn't require the services of our native bees. That said, the native bees aren't hurting anything and they are doing remarkable work increasing my squash yields. Anything that keeps them healthy increases the productivity of my garden.
So: why do I care that my neighbor-bees are eating corn pollen? Well, I've heard the argument that corn pre-treated with pesticides (i.e., neonicitonoids) is harmless because corn isn't insect pollinated. After watching the bees in my garden, I feel pretty safe making the statement that there is still a high potential for exposure.
I also worry that these fuzzy little bees are exploiting the corn pollen because there isn't much else available. I know the local bee populations took a real hit when the vacant-lot prairie was scraped clear to the bed-rock. I hope they are eating the corn pollen because it's convenient, and not because they are starving!
|M. bimaculata are named for their two white spots, one on either side of their abdomen|