Little Six Legs by Sheila Buchanan Buell – Chapter 2 Bumble Bee

       “How much fun it was watching the ants, and their aphid cows.  And the fight with the ladybird beetles,” said Cathleen.  Bruce, you wondered what the ladybird beetles did. We watched them yesterday.  Now we know that they eat aphids.  I heard my uncle say that if something did not eat aphids they would spoil all the plants in the whole world and we would not have any fruit or vegetables to eat.”

       “I am worried that the ladybird beetles ate up our little black ants’ honey cows.  Do you think we can find Busy Black Ant in the grass jungles today?” said Marjorie.

  She was putting a yellow dandelion up to her nose to see if it had a nice smell.  Some flowers do smell very nice.

       “Ha! Ha!” laughed Bruce.  “Look at your nose, Marjorie.  It has yellow flower dust all over it.”

       Marjorie wiped it off.  Then they all began to laugh.

       “Flowers all seem to have flower dust on them.  I wonder why.” said Marjorie.

  Bruce and Cathleen wondered why flowers had flower dust on them too.  Just then Bruce bent down over a red clover plant.  And what do you suppose?   There was Busy Black Ant with the little red spot on her back.

       “Maybe Busy Black Ant will find out about the flower dust.  I have seen many insects in flowers drinking the honey out of them.  They get that flower dust all over them too,” said Cathleen.

       Busy Black Ant felt hungry, so she climbed up on a red clover plant to sip some honey.  The Keeper of the red clover, Mr. Bumble Bee, was there too.  He was very busy putting flower dust in the baskets on his legs to take home.

       “Good morning Mr. Bumble Bee,“ said Busy.  “I am busy trying to find out all about my cousins.  Why are you the keeper of the red clover?”

       “I am Buzz Buzz Busy too.  I am very buzz, buzz busy,” said Mr. Bumble Bee. Busy Black Ant was rather afraid, for the bee looked so big. 

       Then the bee went on buzzing.  “Do you know that if it were not for my long legs there would be no pretty red clover plants for you to climb on?  The farmer would not get any red clover seed to grow into new plants if I did not take care of it.”

       “But what can you do to make seeds grow?” asked Busy.

       “The same thing that honeybees, and butterflies do for many other flowers,” said the Bumble Bee.

       “Well, how do they help seeds grow?” asked Busy.

       “My, My,” buzzed the bumble bee. “Don’t you even know that?  Watch carefully then, and I will show you, but mind you do not interrupt me.”

       “No, I will not,” answer Busy Black Ant.

“All flowers have flower dust in them.  The clover blossoms do, too.  I shake shake shake the blossoms like this.” The bee buzz, buzz, buzzes as it shakes and shakes. Flower dust called pollen flies from all the little flower folds and sticks electrostatically to the fuzzy bumble bee legs.  The bumble bee then carries the pollen to the next flower where it gets to the correct spot in order to make a seed.

Bumble Bees do this with all the clover blossoms.

       Then when the flower fades like this, little live seeds are beginning to grow. When the seeds grow big, they will fall to the ground.

       “Do all flower seeds begin to grow by mixing the flower dust?” wondered Busy.

       “Many flowers cannot grow into seeds if the flower pollen is not mixed for them.  Sometimes the wind and the rain carry the pollen dust. But that is one thing that we bees, butterflies and beetles are here for. Even you help, Busy Black Ant.  You can’t do a flying pollination buzz like I can.”

       “No, I cannot.  I don’t have any wings – only the queen has wings and I do not have your fuzzy body.  So how can I help the flowers?” wondered Busy Black Ant.

       “You help.  For when you walk through the flowers you catch flower pollen on the hairs on your legs.  Then you carry it from flower to flower,” buzzed Mr. Bumble Bee.

       “How queer!  I am so glad I am a little black ant,” said Busy. “And I always did wonder how seeds begin to grow.”

       Mr. Bumble Bee did a direction dance that communicated the way to the pond. He suggested that Busy Black Ant should go there if he wanted to learn more.

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