One of the first little flowers to bloom in the spring is the delicate snowy-white galanthus nivalus, appropriately called, “snowdrop.”

You can see the bright yellow-orange pollen dusting the inner surface of the petals in this close-up. Peter Lindtner, in his book, Garden Plants for Honey Bees (2014), ranks the snowdrop as a good source of pollen (3 stars out of 5), and a fair source of nectar (2 stars). Haven’t seen any bees yet at my little clumps of galanthus, but then I’m not standing guard all the time.


Galanthus has medicinal uses (according to the Kew Botanical Gardens website) One of the chemicals it contains is called galantamine, and it’s used to treat moderate memory impairments. Apparently snowdrops and their bulbs are poisonous to humans and can cause gastrointestinal problems if eaten in quantity. Well, I will leave the pollen to the bees and the bulbs to the squirrels. They made short work of my bulbs last fall. Basically they waited until I had finished planting and then gleefully dug them up again.


My interpretation of the snowdrop and its pollen:

24″ x 36″. Graphite and encaustic on mylar. I am using Dorothy Hodges’ pollen load color swatch for snowdrops (Pollen Loads of the Honeybee). As she has only one color recorded, I also added the pollen color in Kirk’s book (A Colour Guide to Pollen Loads of the Honeybee, IBRA, 2006), and I am using my own approximation of the anther colors from the snowdrops I collected in my garden.



Close-up of the encaustic work on Galanthus nivalus.