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Bees love lilies

Water lily (Nymphaea sp.) with Asian hive honeybee ( (Apis cerana)
Water lily (Nymphaea sp.) with Asian hive honeybee ( (Apis cerana)

Whilst taking pictures of water lilies in Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens (Chiang Mai, Thailand) I noticed that there were bees feeding on the flowers.  Honey bees are generalists and visit a huge range of flowers, which they pollinate whilst feeding on their pollen and nectar.  There are five species of honey bee in Thailand and I think this is one is the Asian hive honeybee (Apis cerana) which is known to feed on lily pollen (1). Bees are not the only insect to feed on lily pollen, but they clearly like these beautiful flowers and perhaps they taste nice as well! What is interesting, was that they were feeding on the pollen before the water lily flower had fully opened.

Water lily with bee

1)  Suwannapong, G., M. E. Benbow & J. C. Nieh, 2011. Chapter 1 – Biology of Thai Honeybees: Natural History and Threats. In: Florio, R. M. (Ed.), Bees: Biology, Threats and Colonies, pp. 1–98.




rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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