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Backyard Honeybee Site Fidelity Experiment


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Last year I planted some common milkweed in my backyard. This year, some of it has started flowering and it has attracted a wide variety of insects. I noticed two honeybees returning daily and I wondered if they were the same ones each time. Yesterday I marked one's head with a dab of nail polish. I was aiming for the abdomen or thorax but I was doing this while the bee was visiting flowers! Today I checked the flowers around 5 PM and saw at least two honeybees, though neither were marked. I checked again around 7:45 and was ecstatic to see the same honeybee I had marked yesterday! I'm sure there have been many studies on honeybee site fidelity but this was exciting as I had done the whole thing in a relatively short amount of time out in my yard! :P

Here's a picture of the little lady today:


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  • 3 months later...

I planted a ton of milkweed this year, I hope next year it will be everywhere. Bees do revisit known sources of nectar and they do have a memory that lasts a few days. They also tell others where the good sources of nectar are through a series of wiggles (bee dancing, heh) that tells the others how far, how good, and the angle to the spot in relation to the current position of the sun in the sky. They are great to watch and social as anything. I love my colony I keep, they are always entertaining.

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I love asclepias plants! I grow it for the monarchs here, and I rear close to a thousand monarchs a year. I hate the common milkweed because it kills a percent of young caterpillars that eat it, so I grow mainly asclepias physocarpa and A. curassavica . A. physocarpa are practically trees (they grow to about seven feet tall here), so if I have a large quantity of monarchs they can be fed. Monarchs, however, lay all of their eggs on the curassavica, and they get eaten to the ground. I move caterpillars from this to physocarpa. Do you guys rear caterpillars?

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