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Bees Killed by Tritoma (S278: 1877)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A short letter to the Editor printed on page 45 of the 15 November 1877 issue of Nature. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S278.htm

    In a friend's garden here where there are quantities of Tritomas or "red-hot-pokers," hundreds of bees have been this year destroyed by them. The honey produced by the flower is very abundant, and the bees enter the tube of the corolla to get at it; but the tube, which is only just large enough at the mouth, tapers gradually, and so the bee gets wedged in and cannot extricate itself. I saw numbers so caught, some in the fresh flower, while others remained in the completely withered and decaying blossoms. Perhaps it may be due to the fine warm days we have had this autumn, inducing the bees to work too late after our native honey-producing flowers have been destroyed by the wet and frosts; or is it a regular thing which happens every year? If so bee-keepers should discourage the Tritoma, or set to work to select varieties with flowers large enough not to kill their bees.

Alfred R. Wallace
Dorking, November 3

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