Pausing for Bumblebees

Covered in pollen in a zucchini flower
Bliss in a zucchini flower

It is the height of summer blooms. Bumblebees are to be found everywhere about my yard.  I find them in the cool of the morning sleeping in flowers, drunk from the previous day’s feeding.  As the day warms I pause to watch them at their work, mindfully probing into pistils within blooms sucking out nectar.

They are especially fond of compound flowers, those in the genus, Compositae, the daisy family, the largest example being a sunflower. These are flowers within flowers.  Look closely in the middle of a dahlia, zinnia, daisy, dandelion sunflower, etc. and you will find multitudes of tiny flowerets surrounded by showy petals. It’s like one-stop shopping for bees.

Bumblebees make up the genus Bombus with 255 different species.  Generally, they are black with varying stripes of yellow and sometime red. They make nests near the ground under logs, duff in small colonies.  They are honey producers but in smaller quantities.

Though bumblebees don’t get as much press as their smaller cousin, the honey bee, they are extremely important pollinators.  Bumblebees are particularly good at it. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating combined with their large bodies

photo courtesy livescience.com
photo courtesy livescience.com

vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit.  Bumblebees flap their wings back and forth rather than up and down like other bees. Researcher Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington likens wing sweeping like a partial spin of a “somewhat crappy” helicopter propeller,

They are gentle bees, single-minded in their work and rarely sting which is good because their sting can be particularly nasty.  I have never been stung even though I sometimes gently pet their fuzzy backs then they are immersed in feeding.  Such sweet bees.

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In Praise of Bumblebees

They probe dreamily in the center

Of pie sized yellow flowers that nod towards the east

Keeping me company

As I work in the garden

 

These tiny winged beasts do their work

Heads up down, up down

Placing in precision their needle-like proboscises

In a sea of stamen and pistil

 

Gentle black creatures

Intoxicated by pollen and nectar

So immersed in their work

My finger can stroke their furry backs

 

I find them in the morning exhausted

Dozing in the midst of flowers

Dusted with yellow

Dreaming bumblebee dreams

 

Buzz and bumble

Find purpose in my zinnias, my dahlias

And sleep until the warmth of a new day

Calls you to your tasks again

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Fun facts thanks to livescience.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peeking Inside of Flowers

IMG_2035Spring is booming in Oregon.  The long, wet winter has given way to a stunning green landscape exploding with blossoms.

Have you ever taken time to look inside of a flower?  I mean really looked, even with a magnifying glass.  In my first botany lab as a university student, I was stunned by what I saw.  As I looked through my scope the variety of designs astonished me. Flowers, being the reproductive organs of plants are designed to attract pollinators.  Intricate designs provide landing sites for bees, butterflies and other bugs among stamens, pistils, and anthers.  Lofty fragrances guide their way.

Humans are attracted too by flowers’ sexy ways.  This week I took time out of a beautiful spring day to peek inside what is blooming about my yard.

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Lessons from an Orchid

May the beauty of your day, take your breath away  – unknown

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I’m in sort of a lull in a creative sense.  My energies are spread elsewhere now that my husband is recovering from knee surgery.  This period draws parallels to an experience I had with dormancy and reblooming…

It was a gift, an orchid plant for my desk at the end of my last school year before retirement. Six blooms of royal magenta, tinged with highlights of yellow cascaded down like the contour of a woman’s haughty hip.  It was one of those grocery store variety orchids, nothing too out of the ordinary except for the color of the flowers.  They positively glowed like a stained glass window in the light.

I absorbed the beauty of these blooms every day for weeks until each slowly shriveled, dried and dropped.  I sadly removed their spent forms one by one.  What was left were several deep green ovate leathery leaves and the tall, now naked flower stem in a plain clay pot.

“I just throw them away” a friend commented on my bloomless orchid.  But I could not, the only crime of this plant needing rest after a grand performance. I remember my father saying that he got his orchids to bloom again.  After enjoying such a spectacular show, I felt it a crime to sentence this plant to death in the compost pile.

I left the orchid on my bedroom window sill, watered it, and waited.  Over a year passed and I realized that it probably needed special nutrients to bloom.  I purchased some spray fertilizer just for orchids.  In a few more months, I had a stalk full of orchid flowers to enjoy again.  It is now in its third bloom.

This experience got me to thinking how we humans too need to be nurtured in life to bloom and then given periods of rest.  This reminds me not to give up in dry times, be patient and to get the self-care I need to be creative.  The compost pile of life awaits soon enough!

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Weekly Photo Challenge- Wandering Through the Tulips

Every spring these tulip fields at the Wooden shoe Tulip Farm explode with color, a welcome end to a dreary winter. I am lucky I don’t have to wander far in Oregon to experience such beauty.

Tulips & tractorTulips closeup pinkTulips closeup red

 

 

 

 

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Wanderlust