Day 13-B is for ….

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Tree bumblebee

Bumble bee! C has learnt the alphabet off by heart, back to front and probably sideways too. She loves finding words for each letter, and Bee is obviously the go to insect for B!

Since planting the patio ‘Pollinator Cafe’ I have become more aware of the presence of Bumblebees in our garden .I will confess I have needed a bit of help from the BBCT to decipher which species is which. The beautiful amethyst and white flowers of the Centaurea are visited most days by busy little ‘Bombus hypnorum‘ , or Tree bumblebees. The other pollinator friendly plants seem to be less favoured at present.Perhaps it isn’t the right time for their nectar just yet?!

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Bombus hypnorum

The foxgloves on the hedgerow behind the ‘meadow’ have just bloomed. I love Digitalis, it reminds me of Beatrix Potter tales and my childhood running wild in Ireland. The Garden bumblebees  (Bombus hortorum) seem to love it even more. These specimens are rather large, so much so that the other day I thought their was a bird or rodent moving in amongst the foxgloves. I went in for a closer look and was surprised to discover the commotion was being caused by this chap.

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Bombus hortorum.

I spent a good half an hour staring at the foxgloves, marvelling at the different adaptations that they have evolved to ensure pollination occurs. To start with, the purple colour of the petals acts as a beacon to any passing bees.The wide opening of the flower itself is a perfect landing spot with the spotty pattern acting as  natural ‘runway markers’,directing the bee onto the nectar. The bell shaped flower is a tight fit for the bee, and the foxgloves reproductive organs are suspended above the entrance. This is a clever mechanism for ensuring pollen brushes off from the stamen onto the bee.Pollen carried from other plants is also rubbed off the bee as it passes the stigma.The little translucent fronds within the entrance of each flower are guard hairs. They act as a mechanism to keep out small insects, which could hit the nectar without touching any pollen- all reward without any work!

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Looking at foxgloves and thinking about the detail has been one of the unexpected treasures of my 30 days wild.