Archive for April, 2009

Come Hither, Bumblebee, and Pollinate

Published on April 29, 2009

By Anne Raver, The New York Times

MY native black cherry tree is covered with little white flowers, and if the bees and other pollinators do their job, I’ll have plenty of sweet black cherries by midsummer. My Korean spicebushes (Viburnum carlesii) are also in full bloom, their clusters of pinkish-white flowers filling the air with the heady scent of cinnamon and honey. But it’s striking how few bees are sipping nectar from these Asian shrubs compared with my native redbud and sassafras trees, which are literally vibrating with pollinators.

It bears out the research that Gordon Frankie, an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has begun in gardens around that city, where he and his students have surveyed 1,000 different plants, both native and nonnative.

“Only 50 were native plants, but of that 50, 80 percent were attractive to pollinators,” Professor Frankie said. “In contrast, only 10 percent of the 950 nonnatives were attractive to pollinators.”