When bumble bees are short of pollen they bore tiny half-moon shaped holes into the leaves of flowerless pants. This fool the plant into flowering up to 30 days earlier.
Now scientists are trying to recreate the same in the laboratory. Bee-bitten plants bear flowers about two weeks to a month sooner than untouched plants. Researchers have attempted to replicate the patterns using metal forceps and a razor. But the damage by bees was more effective than that by the scientists.
Plants in response to drought, infections caused by certain pathogens or other environmental stress may flower early. But animal behaviour prompting the plants to flower early is a less explored path. It was by chance the experts noted the bumble bees munching on the leaves. As of now this character is noted only in bumble bees. Honey bees ignored the plants without flowers.
The study was published in the journal Science.
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