Friday Flora & Fresh Air

artichoke flower closeup bee 3artichoke flower closeup bee 5artichoke flower closeup bee 6The bees and I are completely and utterly infatuated with these artichoke flowers, it seems that neither one of us can get enough. As much as I’ve enjoyed watching and observing the bees, it’s also interesting to note how the blossoms have changed shape – in the course of a single week, they’ve gone from concave to surprisingly convex. But back to the bees … I love how they hover over the flowers looking for a spot to land and then manage to crawl deep into the interior, in search of nectar.

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I originally thought they were just collecting pollen, but after reading this informative article by Kathy Keatley Garvey, I learned otherwise. According to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of UC Davis, it turns out that the bees are attracted to the nectar “hot spot” deep within the artichoke flower. I’m so glad I didn’t harvest all of my artichokes; bees need both pollen and nectar to survive, and artichoke flowers are a good source of both. Basically, bees need nectar for energy (they use it to make honey, which gets them through the winter) and they need pollen to feed the brood and queen.

Planting a wide variety of plants, including natives and wildflowers, results in a longer bloom time and a more diverse source of food. This in turn gives the bee population a greater chance of survival. With bee populations in serious decline due to colony collapse disorder (and blood-sucking mites), honey bees need all the help they can get.

Mariellé Anzelone, urban conservation biologist and executive director of NYC Wildflower Week, sums it up best in her op-ed piece, “Greedy Gardeners” in the New York Times. In it she writes, “When forests and meadows are lost (to development or farming), places for bees to eat also disappear. These wild bees feed us, but we are not feeding them.”

To learn more about how you can help feed bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators, check out this helpful website by Pollinator Partnership.

As always, thank you for reading.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a magical first day of summer.

Friday Flora & Fresh Air

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When I realized I’d waited too long to harvest my remaining artichokes, I was a bit irritated with myself, but now that they’ve begun to flower, I’m actually quite pleased – I had such a blast watching this bee collect pollen this morning. I was utterly mesmerized! Afterwards, I was more than a little surprised to see that it was still able to fly – completely covered in pollen. All day long, bees have been visiting these artichoke flowers (wish I could taste the honey!) and hummingbirds have been swarming all over our agapanthus. I’ve counted at least two dozen hummers today, and I’m still counting. And as I type this, the quail are making their way down the hill, into our backyard. Last week, a lone bachelor visited. Then he brought his girlfriend. Yesterday we had three. And just now, I counted five! I absolutely love these visits, so you’ll have to excuse me – I don’t want to miss a single minute.

I hope your weekend is filled with wonder!