Saturday, June 20, 2009

A bumblebee visit

One of my favorite warm-season garden activities is watching flower visitors. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, squash bees, blueberry bees, leaf-cutter bees, honeybees, butterflies, wasps, hoverflies, sweatbees, and hummingbirds collect either nectar or pollen or both.

I can't imagine why I ever (as a clueless graduate student) thought that this wasn't interesting, preferring the germination strategies of weedy species (hmm, at least that turned out to be useful).

But as a gardener, and garden educator, I've had SO much fun observing flower visitors, and encouraging other folks to watch.

This morning, a (female) bumblebee was foraging on one of the purple coneflowers in the front meadow, busily working through the fresh young flowers that make up the 'head' of a composite, collecting pollen (note her pollen basket) as well as nectar. I had to check with my gardening companion (uh, he studied pollination biology in graduate school) about their foraging habits!

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