Collectors These

 

I recently discovered a poet, Ben Truesdale (as “distilled voice”) who writes beautiful, often lyrical poems on a variety of subjects. His poems on bees have captured my imagination especially. I couldn’t resist reblogging his work here. Collectors These.

via Collectors These.

more buzz and more cool pollen from the pollen path

This past weekend, I had the very great pleasure to be at a workshop given by artist, Lori Weidenhammer (the official “Madame Bee Speaker”) at the UBC Farm.  Lori was downright fabulous–informative, engaging (and entertaining). Her passion for bees is infectious, and I think that all the students left that afternoon with a wealth of new knowledge under their belts (as did I).

Lori gave me the opportunity to try my hand at sonic pollination in the field, with borage blossoms, but unfortunately, I was not successful.

When I got home though, I was determined to try again. I harvested a stem of borage from my garden, put it in water and waited for a bit for the plant to acclimatize to the new environment. Each blue blossom has stunning deep purple anthers. I held a blossom over black paper, and with my tuning fork (“C”) zapped the anthers with the vibrating fork. Presto! A lovely little puff of pollen fell onto the paper! What a thrill. Apparently there are several genera of bees that can buzz pollinate–bumblebees, sweat bees, carpenter bees and some stingless bees. Honeybees do not have this ability.

I don’t have enough borage pollen to make a good color sample yet, maybe later in the summer.
borage-buzz-pollination

I’ve also been collecting fireweed (Chamerion Angustifolium) and managed to get enough pollen to create a reasonable color sample. The fireweed pollen is sticky. It has viscin threads on each pollen grain, which makes it clump together and as a result, the pollen doesn’t come off the anthers easily.

Fieweed-pollen

In the image below, I’ve placed 2 fireweed anthers on the color samples in Dorothy Hodges’ book, The Pollen Loads of the Honey Bee, and got a reasonably close match to Hodges’ lightest Fireweed color. Fresh anther pollen is different in tonality from the pollen loads collected by honeybees and bumblebees, and it also varies in tonality from year to year and plant to plant, depending upon the environment in which the plant grows.

But look at those anthers–the filaments are pinky-purple. What a wonderful contrast to the blue/green pollen.

Fireweed-on-color-samples

a family resemblance

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.

Lupin-close-up

Intense orange pollen from this species of lupin.

Lupins-and-pollen

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.

7566-Leafcutter-on-Wisteria

The pollen from the wisteria anthers–a lovely pale grey-brown.

7576-Wisteria-pollen

The exquisitely shaped and detailed wisteria blossom. The tip of the keel is lavender and the banner spot is almost a lime green.

Wisteria-blossom

a mother’s day feast

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.osmia-on-hawthorns A honeybee already partially loaded with creamy-white pollen.honeybee-on-hawthorns

A beautiful little mining bee,  rear legs and head covered in pollen about to move from one cluster of flowers to another inviting bloom.andrena-on-hawthorns Little worker bumblebee sisters with bright, fuzzy bottoms busy at work.7290-bumblebees-on-hawthorn

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.
andrena-resting-on-hawthorn-leafA little bumblebee worker diving into a bluebell.
bumblebee-on-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.megachile-on-rhodoAnother view of the same bee. megachile-on-rhodo

And here’s a mystery bee. Is that the same bee as the one in the two images above?mystery-bee