How to attract bees?

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ElieEstephane
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How to attract bees?

Post by ElieEstephane »

Hello everyone
I'm running into a small problem. Since my garden is full of jasmines, apricots, oranges and other delicious flowers (for the insects not me :lol: ), the bees seem to ignore my cacti flowers. Is it possible to lure them in with sugar syrop or something similar to pollinate the cacti flowers or i'm gonna have to hand pollinate?
Thanks in advance
There are more cacti in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
One of the few cactus lovers in Lebanon (zone 11a) :mrgreen:
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WayneByerly
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by WayneByerly »

ooohhhhh ... I have NO idea what to tell you about this. FIRST ... I feel very strange in saying anything at all to YOU, one of the most knowledgable of the "experts" I have run into here at the forum. But just on the off chance that the smallest part of my experience with bees (mostly "sweat" bees ... we don't get too many "honey" bees here as this is cattle country, and not farm country) will mean something to you, i'll continue.

And It is my profoundest wish that I not appear condescending here and that I am NOT putting myself forward as an "expert".

MY outside cacti are all in the greenhouse, some of which flower all year long, and I, for the most part, choose to manually pollinate my cactus flowers ... in an attempt to assure that as many as possible get pollinated. I don't know what I would do if my collection was as big as yours. Manual pollination would take forever ... Maybe you could experiment with a small batch. But now a curious thought occurs to me out of the blue ... I thouight bees were attracted to the colors produced by ultra-violet light, and NOT nectar? That they take advantage of the nectar, but were attracted by color?

I am puzzled by the fact that you say the bees seem to ignore your cacti. Are you CERTAIN of this? Do NONE of your cactus flowers have the petals curl inward as pollinated flowers will do? Like the flower in the picture below indicated by the big blue arrow?
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Despite my propensity to want to manually pollinate mine by hand, the bees DO visit even my greenhouse cacti. A "sweat bee" (i have NO idea why they are called that, unless they are attracted to a persons sweat) in the flowers of my Mammillaria hahniana.
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The following links are interesting articles about what bees are attracted to. I THINK you will find them VERY interesting.
http://www.springer.com/about+springer/ ... -1408347-0
http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016 ... es/7959382
https://bees.techno-science.ca/english/ ... t-bees.php
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/ ... tract-bees

And this one has suggestions on how to attract MORE bees.
https://www.thespruce.com/bee-plants-1401948

I really hope I'm not pounding things into the ground here, but these next four articles talk about bees and cactus flowers
https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/cactus ... ed-flowers
https://buzzybeegirl.wordpress.com/2008 ... fuzzy-bee/
http://hownabout.com/cactus-pollination/
https://opportunitymuse.com/cactus-flow ... llinators/


OHHHHH!!!! Here's another thought that just this instant occurred to me. The flowers of plants E V O L V E D to attract pollinators ... and cacti are NEW WORLD PLANTS (north, central and southern americas, along with some islands) ... so what if the bees that naturally occur in Lebanon just don't know what to do with new world flowering plants that are NOT naturally occurring in Lebanon??????

That might (at least partially) explain why your cacti are not attracting as many bees as your other plants. Or maybe I'm just too ignorant to be speaking on these matters.
Make the moral choice & always do what's right. Be a good example. Be part of the solution & make a contribution to society, or be part of the problem & end your life with nothing but regrets. Live a life you can be proud of! Zone 7a
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ElieEstephane
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by ElieEstephane »

Thanks for all the links wayne! I'll read up on them this evening.
Unfortunately i never had a bee in my cacti. All seeds i obtained are from hand pollination. Any flower i don't pollinate withers away. With all the flower beds and flowering trees and 100s of acres of wild flowers i wouldn't think bees would venture far from that for just a few puny flowers.

what if the bees that naturally occur in Lebanon just don't know what to do with new world flowering plants that are NOT naturally occurring in Lebanon
We have a very large production of opuntia fruits and dragon fruit and all golden barrels and yuccas have seed pods on them so i would assume bees are familiar with cacti flowers
There are more cacti in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
One of the few cactus lovers in Lebanon (zone 11a) :mrgreen:
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greenknight
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by greenknight »

Some cactus flowers are just not attractive to bees. For instance, my Echinopsis ancistrophora, with big showy flowers that you'd think would draw in bees, is ignored by them. However, Hover Flies (Syrphid flies, look like miniature bees but they're stingless), always visit them, and do a good job of pollination.

Not familiar with Wayne's "sweat bees", but that doesn't look like a Syrphid - they have stubby antennae, and no way to carry pollen, which that one seems to be loaded down with.
Spence :mrgreen:
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7george
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by 7george »

Bees are very practical animals. If they are foraging for nectar at the moment they will go to most promising crop of flowers around and will not pay attention to other plants in range. Cacti flowers are mostly dry in nectar and usually provide some pollen only. But in their natural habitat they may be the only crop for insects at the moment so been visited eventually. I have seen bees visiting Opuntia flowers like crazy but i guess that was the only choice for them at the moment around.

I know the honey attract bees but if you even attract them to one cactus that way, what will make them to transfer pollen to another of the same species? It would be easier to pollinate your cacti manually.
If your cacti mess in your job just forget about the job.
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ElieEstephane
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by ElieEstephane »

7george wrote: Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:33 am I have seen bees visiting Opuntia flowers like crazy but i guess that was the only choice for them at the moment around.
I believe i once watched a documentary about a species of bees that only feeds on opuntia flowers. When opuntias bloom in spring in the desert, they will go crazy for them.
And yes i'm thinking manual pollination is gonna be my only option.
Thanks george!
There are more cacti in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
One of the few cactus lovers in Lebanon (zone 11a) :mrgreen:
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greenknight
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by greenknight »

The thing with the Echinopsis is that they're more adapted to hawk moth pollination - they do produce nectar, but it's at the bottom of the long floral tube. The moths can reach it with their tongues, bees can't, and honeybees are too big to crawl down there. The little Syrphid flies crawl right down inside the flowers, though, I've watched them.
Spence :mrgreen:
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ElieEstephane
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by ElieEstephane »

greenknight wrote: Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:46 am The thing with the Echinopsis is that they're more adapted to hawk moth pollination - they do produce nectar, but it's at the bottom of the long floral tube. The moths can reach it with their tongues, bees can't, and honeybees are too big to crawl down there. The little Syrphid flies crawl right down inside the flowers, though, I've watched them.
I think the only species that produced seeds on their own were echinopsis subdenudata which were pollinated at night. This is the only flowering night species i have.
Thanks spence!
There are more cacti in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
One of the few cactus lovers in Lebanon (zone 11a) :mrgreen:
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greenknight
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by greenknight »

The E. ancistrophora seems to need something to transfer pollen, even though it's clearly self-fertile. At times I've taken it indoors when it bloomed to serve as as a temporary decoration - it set no seed, and the flowers lasted a couple days.
Spence :mrgreen:
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ElieEstephane
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by ElieEstephane »

Honestly now i think they are just out there to spite me :-k i got home early and decided to watch for bees and to my surprise, they spent more than 15 minutes (and still going as i write) to go through every single flower on this euphorbia and missed all the mammillaria and rebutia flowers which are in the 100s.
Thinking about placing the euphorbia between the flowering cacti and see if that changes their mind.
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Maybe this sticky secretion is what attracts them?
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There are more cacti in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
One of the few cactus lovers in Lebanon (zone 11a) :mrgreen:
theJrnyconts
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Re: How to attract bees?

Post by theJrnyconts »

Very late to the party and things have probably changed, but what I know is honey bees see blues and purples the best. I had three flowering cacti next to some purple flower sage and they completely ignored the cacti. I have carnoilian honey bees. For me its the native bees that do the work since I live in an area that isn't heavily populated with cacti. I have to wait until the natives find them before they are pollinated.
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