I’ve been collecting pollen from lupin and wisteria; both have similar flowers–typical of the pea family–blossoms with wings, a banner petal and a keel! Very cool. It seems that not every bee can readily access the special floral shape, but bumblebees can. They’ve got enough size and heft to pry their way into the bloom’s center.
Intense orange pollen from this species of lupin.
This leaf-cutter bee had no problems getting into blossoms of my Japanese white wisteria. She’s been foraging on the flowers right along with the bumblebees.
The pollen from the wisteria anthers–a lovely pale grey-brown.
The exquisitely shaped and detailed wisteria blossom. The tip of the keel is lavender and the banner spot is almost a lime green.
The rhodos and hawthorns were abuzz these last few days with a variety of pollinators: flies, wasps, solitary bees, bumblebees and honeybees. A feast for the eyes! Could one say some of these busy visitors were mothers and others were workers foraging for their mothers? A little bit of anthropomorphization, yes. Nontheless, such a delight to observe. I cannot identify them specifically–this will be a lifetime’s work, but some of the bees are easier to distinguish than others.
A little Megachilid mason bee (?) about to descend onto a cluster of hawthorn blooms. A honeybee already partially loaded with creamy-white pollen.
A beautiful little mining bee, rear legs and head covered in pollen about to move from one cluster of flowers to another inviting bloom. Little worker bumblebee sisters with bright, fuzzy bottoms busy at work.
A pollen-loaded mining bee taking a break to clean off those important antenna. She carries pollen even high up on her rear legs and on the hind side of the thorax. A little bumblebee worker diving into a bluebell. Look at the pollen load on the belly of this little bee. Her abdomen is upturned and she has a large head. Megachilid, but cannot be more precise.Another view of the same bee.
And here’s a mystery bee. Is that the same bee as the one in the two images above?
Bluebells have appeared in my garden faithfully every spring since we first moved into our home. They came gratis. Originally I thought they were the native bluebells famous in English countrysides, but no, my bluebells, and white bluebells and pink bluebells are Spanish hybrids and therefore have no claim to fame. They are beautiful nontheless, and the bees enjoy them too. Apparently, the true English bluebell (Scilla nonscripta) has creamy colored pollen. You can see the yellow to creamy-yellow swatches on the bottom left of the image below. The swatches represent the various tones of pollen loads collected from honeybees that have foraged on English bluebells. The blue-green swatches on the right represent the colors of pollen loads collected from bees that have foraged on Spanish bluebells. Quite a difference! The blue-green dust in the image above is the anther pollen I collected from the Spanish bluebells in my garden. Although the pollen loads from honeybees will always be different in tonality from fresh anther pollen (because honeybees mix nectar or honey with the pollen thus resulting in tonal changes), there is still quite a similarity between the pollen dust and the lightest sample in the swatch.