Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bee Frenzy

This is about plants and light.  Or plants and a lack of light.  And bees.

The days are rapidly getting shorter now as autumn winds down.  Bees are rushing about, taking advantage of the masses of blooming asters to finish up their food supplies for the long winter.  There is a huge border behind my house just filled with white asters and I can hear the bees buzzing from many feet away.

The question then is why the asters are blooming now and not earlier in the season.  The answer is something called photoperiodism – in other words, a reaction to the amount of light, and the chemicals that keep plants from blooming.

Except that when it comes to flowers, it is the lack of light that does it.  The chemicals that affect blooming are unstable in darkness and break down at night.  So asters and goldenrods and mums can’t bloom until the nights are long enough for much of the chemicals to degrade.  Then they can bloom.  They are what are called “short day plants”.  They only bloom when the nights are longer than 12 hours.  Other plants are "long day plants" that only bloom when the spring days grow long enough, and some plants just don't care.  The dandelions that brighten up our lawns will bloom all year long.

So consider this:  all of those artificial lights like streetlights and flood lights on your patio can be keeping your fall garden from blooming, and the same goes for plants inside.  That is why last year’s poinsettia isn’t turning red this year.  Keep it in a room without artificial lights and it will brighten up.

Does this artificial daylight affect birds and amphibians and insects also?  You bet it does.

No comments:

Post a Comment