Monday, August 13, 2007

Passionflowers and carpenter bees

At mid-day in the meadow, the passionflowers open up. Our native passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a lovely sprawling vine (sometimes a bit too sprawling, but it's easily pulled up when it gets out of hand). Each flower only lasts for a day, fading quickly. They're pollinated by carpenter bees, who drink the nectar pooled at the base of the flowers. I noticed this bee busily working one of the flowers about noon. Check out the pollen on its back! It's such a great example of how flower shape is adapted to promote cross-pollination. As the carpenter bee takes up nectar, pollen is continuously brushed on its back, to be transferred to the next flower visited.

This bee had so much pollen on its back that it was getting down around its mouthparts. Apparently, the pollen doesn't taste good, so she/he busily cleaned up, taking a break from nectar drinking.

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