Thursday, June 10, 2010

Getting Down... and Busy

Happy Pollination Season! If you notice a sudden jump in the quality of photography in today's post, call it punctuated equilibrium. It's because ALL photos are courtesy of (and copyright to) The Chemist. (Let me know if you want more formal acknowledgement, buddy!) And, of course, his trusty sidekick, a new camera with which he's obviously having way too much fun! You should also know, perhaps, that all this botanizing took place in his own backyard, where he maintains a native garden that offers a seasonal smorgasbord to members of the Apidae. (The botanist left in me wants to say Apiaceae, but that's a whole 'nother subject.)

First up, and earliest in the season (4/15/2010) after a long hungry winter is the Willow (species unspecified). Can't you just hear this honeybee: "Ummm... Yummmm!"

Along about the 24th of May, The Chemist was out in the garden one day, when he realized he was being watched. This diminutive peeping tom declares: "No pollen for me; I'm here for something else altogether." Crab spider in ambush mode on Vicia americana (American vetch).

Then came Mertensia lanceolata (chiming bells, 5/31/2010). Still hungry, but a whole different bee (Bombus sp. or at least that group).

Fast forward to today: yep, they're still at it out there among the flowers! The Chemist reports: "This honeybee put in a great deal of effort trying to squeeze into the tight flowers of Hedysarum boreale [Utah sweetvetch]." Remember, bees, no means no!

Competition (or something) is heating up though. As he watched, this wasp zoomed in aggressively. The Chemist describes the action: "The wasp/hornet? also was apparently getting nectar but a pair of them seemed more intent on patrolling around the plants (looking for nest provisions?) than foraging for nectar. At one point one of them, apparently intentionally, gave a honey bee a good ramming although the honeybee seemed pretty unperturbed by the collision."

Meanwhile, serenity prevails over at the Orobanche fasciculata (broomrape) [now known by some as Aphyllon fasciculata, but let's not go there*], a parasitic plant nestled quietly amid its host, in this case Artemisia frigida (pasture, silver, or fringed sage). Perhaps these gals were done with the business of agent-assisted courtship, and ready to settle quietly into motherhood-mode.

*I'm old-fashioned, I know, but I still subscribe to the theory that scientific names are supposed to be more permanent and useful than common names.

Thanks, Chemist! Bee Lady has been equally busy observing pollinators, so we may have more decent photos to share soon... (The Phylogenist taught me something new about my own camera last week, but trust me you don't want to see my first attempts!)


Joy K. said...

I love plopping myself on the ground in the garden to see what's sampling the flowers, as well as what's sampling the things that are sampling the flowers. Butterflies, bee flies, moths, damselflies, my first Argiope of the season. It's wonderful.

JSK said...

Great pics of the pollinators!

Mary said...

Sally, I flew through these incredible pictures a while back, but today have had a chance to look at each one a little more closely and to read your text, which greatly enhances the experience. Your botanical asides are terrific. Thanks for a neat post, and thank The Chemist for the images (does The Chemist have a blog, perchance?).