Honey Bees Electrically “Shock Charge” Flowers

beeelctricHoney Bees carry their own electrical field. When bees fly and flutter their wings, they produce a strong electric charge. They use this charge to collect and harvest food … magnetically.

“Anything flying through the air, whether it’s a baseball, 767 jumbo jet, or a bee, acquires a strong positive electrostatic charge due to interaction with air molecules,” says Stephen Buchmann of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Bees flapping wings create a positive electrical charge of up to 200 volts as they flit from flower to flower, according to a news release.

Generally flowers carry a negative charge and emit a weak electrical signal, the bees’ charge helps pollen stick to the little hairs on their legs and bodies. So when a positive charged bee rolls up to a new flower engorged with negativly charged pollen, the stuff practically leaps onto it. Bees utilize the power of this static cling to easily harvest the plant pollen.

How do bees know which flowers to visit to load up on nectar?

Which flowers have already been plundered of their bounty?

Flowers, the researchers confirmed, emit a different electrical signal after their nectar has been harvested.  They found that petunias became slightly more positively charged after a bee visited them, according to Scientific American.  So think of when you drag your feet along the carpet, then you touch something.. ZAP you transmit an electrical current and transfer a charge. The bees do this to the flowers. They buzz around creating a positive charge through the static friction in the air, land on a flower which has a negative charge. And “ZAP” the flower takes on the positive charge and holds on to it for a while.  Other Bees can then easily find the “Charged” flowers and can quickly distinguish which flowers to visit.  Bees don’t have time to waste visiting pretty flowers whose nectar has just been taken by another insect.  The last thing a flower wants is to attract a bee and then fail to provide nectar or pollen.