“At the heart of a Simpoh Ayer (Dillenia suffruticosa) flower, a compact whorl of whitish stamens protrudes proudly into the airspace, resembling the tip of a Chinese calligraphy paintbrush (above).
“It can be difficult to imagine the intended function of such a strange floral structure, until you actually witness a Carpenter Bee landing upon it (above).
“Hugging the whorl of stamens intimately, the Carpenter Bee folds back its wings and tucks in its belly (abdomen), cupping the tips of the stamens (above).
“Then, a series of intense bodily vibrations are produced by the Carpenter Bee, which triggers the expulsion of fine pollen from the tips of the stamens. The expelled pollen will adhere to and accumulate on the underside and hindlimbs of the bee as it repeats the buzzing process while circling the stamens in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction (above).
“This intriguing process is known as buzz pollination and the local Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa sp.) have perfected this technique to an art. Thus far, the Big Black Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa latipes) appears to be the most abundant and regular visitor. Other species visiting Simpoh Ayer include the Black and Yellow Carpenter (Xylocopa aestuans) (above) and the Collared Carpenter (Xylocopa dejeanii) (below).
“Video clips of the Carpenters giving good vibes may be previewed below:”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
11th February 2017