It’s Friday night. You’re tired after a long week of work and want to take the family out to dinner. What would you choose: (1) a specialty restaurant or (2) a buffet?
Each choice has advantages and disadvantages. The food choices at a specialty restaurant tend to be limited but of higher quality. In contrast, the food choices are greater at a buffet but they do not usually include “high ticket” items.
The natural world provides many sources of food for foraging animals. Consider, for example, the nourishing nectar and pollen found in wildflowers. Flowers provide bees with floral nectar, a source of energy-rich carbohydrates. Flowers also contain pollen, a source of protein and other necessary nutrients.
In the natural world, just like in our “restaurant row”, bees are provided with a choice of specialty restaurants and buffets. Here’s one “restaurant” that specializes in California Poppies, a good source of pollen.
But there are other “restaurants” that provide the floral equivalent of a buffet:
So bees have a choice. What do they choose? According to this new study  from the University of Texas in Austin, they choose the buffet.
Researchers studied a native California bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii , as part of a study on the effects of paved surfaces on ground nesting bees. As part of their study, they also found that,
(1) “Bees will move longer distances to find patches of flowers that are rich in species; it's not floral density that determines how far a bumblebee will fly, but floral diversity.”
(2) “Bees will also forage further away from their home nest if the surrounding landscape is less heterogeneous. ‘In some ways, it's a bet-hedging strategy,’ said Jha. ‘If the landscape is composed of consistently dense flowering patches, bees take a risk and forage farther afield to find species-rich patches.’"
In other words, when given a choice, picky bumblebees choose buffets. Somebody better tell the chefs at The Food Network.
Here’s a site to check out if you want to plant a “bee friendly” garden: Urban Bee Gardeners .
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org  for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, January 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30.
Saturday mornings, January 5 & 19.
Saturday, January 19, 1:00-3:00 PM. “Native American Use of Plants” at East/Rice Canyon. Meet in the parking lot at the gate. Click here  for a map and directions.
New trail maps  available. If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces.
There’s also a new website for bicycle riders .
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