Climate change and stress caused by drought are some factors that can encourage plants to bloom ahead of their flowering period.
A study found another reason that can play a role in this advanced growth: hungry bees.
Bees with no other food sources speed up the plant’s flowering process so they can harvest pollen and nectar 30 days earlier than expected, said researchers at a public research institution in Switzerland.
Bees make this possible by poking small holes in the plant’s foliage.
The researchers placed bees that hadn’t eaten pollen in three days in mesh bags containing 10 black mustard plants.
Each plant that had at least five holes punctured by the bees produced flowers after 17 days.
Plants that were not cut by bees, on the other hand, took an average of 33 days to flower despite being grown under similar conditions.
The same experiment was carried out on tomato plants, which blossomed up to 30 days earlier.
The study revealed that the more hungry the bees are, the more holes they cut in the leaves.
Researchers tried punching holes in the leaves manually. The plants also bloomed faster, though not as quickly as those nipped by bees.
This could indicate that something in the bees’ saliva is speeding up the flowering of plants.
Two wild bee species were also seen creating holes in plants outside the testing lab. This suggests that the chances of experiencing the same thing in your garden are high, said the researchers.
The next time you see your flowers blooming ahead of their season, you may want to look for half-moon-shaped holes. It could be a sign that bees are drilling holes in your plants to collect their pollen sooner.