Pollinators!

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Market Science on June 20th was all about pollinators and pollination. It was a great day thanks to Chris Kulhanek and Morgan Carr-Markell from the UMN Bee Lab & Bee Squad. You can check out our storify to see some of the social media and all of the fun we had on pollinator day.

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Saturday started out rainy but the rain quickly gave way to sun and lots of excitement for one of the most amazing exhibits for the day — An observation hive. Many Market-goers stopped by to visit with the bees and learn more about life in the hive. Along with the hive, the UMN Bee Lab & Bee Squad also brought a sensory lab for bees. There was honey and pollen to taste and different types of wax to see and smell. They also brought some beekeeping equipment so you could experience what it is like to take care of bees. Check out our trivia page to learn more interesting facts about honey bees and beekeeping.

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We also learned about other important pollinators!

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Honey bees are very important pollinators but there are also a variety of native bees right here in Minnesota that pollinate cultivated and wild flowers (check out the trivia page to learn how many bee species are native to Minnesota). The UMN Bee Lab & Bee Squad also brought some native bee specimens and an example of a house that you can make to help support native wood and stem-dwelling bees. You can learn more about how to support native bees in your own garden and neighborhood here.

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Along with bees many other animals also function as pollinators. Flowers that attract particular pollinators have traits that help the right pollinator find them. Can you match the flower with its pollinator?

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Here are some hints:

Bee pollinators – Bees land on flowers when pollinating bee-pollinated flowers often have landing pad. They are also very clever so the flowers are open to show their rewards. They will pollinate flowers of all colors but are often associated with blue and pink flowers.

Bird pollinators – Hummingbirds prefer red flowers and with plenty of nectar (sugar water) to give them energy. They remain flying while visiting a flower so they do not need a place to land. Often, flowers they visit have long funnel shapes that fit their beaks.

Moth pollinators – Moths visit flowers at dawn or dusk so often visit flowers that open during the evening. They prefer flowers that are scented and have nectar. Often the flowers are white or pale so that they are easy to find in the dark. Moths also continue to fly while visiting so they do not need a place to land.

Butterfly pollinators – Butterflies often prefer flowers that grow in clusters that have lots of nectar. They also like brightly colored flowers that are red, orange, yellow, or purple.

Bat pollinators – Bats are out at night so they pollinate flowers that are also out at night. Bats are large pollinators so they pollinate large flowers, like those on cacti. They prefer fragrant flowers that are white or pale in color.

Fly pollinators – Flies that feed their young with dung or dead animals are drawn to flowers that can mimic those odors and colors.

How did you do?

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It was a great day and we are looking forward to another fun Saturday next week. Coming up we will be switching gears from animals and learning more about chemistry!

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