PerspectiveEcology

The secret lives of bees as horticulturists?

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 824-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc2451

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Summary

The symbiotic relationship between insect pollinators and flowers is as tight as it is fragile. Plants provide nutrition for flower visitors in exchange for pollination services. However, timing is critical in this exchange: If pollinators are out of sync with the blooming times of their favorite flowers, then the plants might display their beautiful sex organs in vain, and pollinators and their offspring might starve (1, 2). Now, on page 881 of this issue, Pashalidou et al. report that bumble bees are not passive players in this relationship. Rather, the bees have developed a way to hasten flowering specifically under conditions in which bees are food-deprived early in the season (3).

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