Pipettes & Paintbrushes | Spring 2018

Sunflower Medicine

Sunflower Medicine

Artist: Anna Ashe-Simmer, Natural Resources Conservation
Pen and ink

Partner: George LoCascio, Environmental Conservation

Just like humans, bumble bees get sick. And just like us, bumble bees don’t do their job as well when they aren’t at their best. One of a bumble bee’s most important jobs is pollination. Pollination is necessary for plants to reproduce and bear fruit. Pollination provides the food on our tables and supports the wide diversity of plants in our ecosystems. Sick bees mean trouble for our agricultural systems and native landscapes. However, bees don’t fly from flower to flower in order to pollinate, they visit flowers to dine. The bees pollinate by accident. Bees sip the flower’s sugary nectar and munch on nutrient-packed pollen. Not only do these satisfy the bee’s appetite, sometimes the nectar or pollen acts as medicine, like an herbal remedy. Only some types of nectar and pollen have this effect. Sick bees that eat sunflower or goldenrod pollen become healthier. Healthy bees mean healthy plant pollination. In return, we will have plenty of crops to eat, as well as a diversity of wildflowers to smell the next time we go for a walk. The next time you see a bee crawling on a flower, ask yourself: is it taking a dose of medicine?