Monday, August 2, 2010

The Gentians and the Bees

The narrow-leaved gentians were blooming is such profusion along the river that it was stunning. I've never seen carpets of this flower before. But even more amazing was watching the industrious bumblebees diving into the "closed" blossoms in search of pollen and nectar.

I took several series of photos, hoping to capture the entire event. Here we have Madam Bumblebee diving into the flower:

...and then backing out:

When she emerged, she used her middle legs, which are equipped with pollen combs, to rake the pollen off her hair and transfer it to the pollen sacs on her hind legs (for more information on this, read the piece I just wrote for the Adirondack Almanack).

And then off she goes to dive into another flower:

Here we go again. Into the flower:

...within the flower (sometimes buzzing, sometimes silent):

...and backing back out:

And then it dawned on me: I have a video option on the camera! So, take your Dramamine and sit back - you can watch LIVE ACTION of the bumblebee visiting the gentians! If you turn the volume up, you can hear the vibration buzzing when the bee is deep within the flower.

[Okay - I couldn't upload it onto the blog, but you can see it here.]


  1. Well, I know what I'm going to be looking for, the next time I visit one of the meadows. That was a nice article, Ellen, and I watched the video a couple of times.

  2. Wonderful! love the video also - hope you don't mind that I'm sending it along to my co-workers...

  3. Too cute! That's working hard for dinner.

  4. Amazing and "bee-yootiful" photos and video! I too, have seen more of this gentian this year than ever before. And blooming much earlier.

  5. Wow! Who knew this would be such a hit! Glad you all enjoyed it. It was fun to watch. Happy bees.

  6. I love the harmony of nature and how each being or plant has its place of usefulness in the universe. Beautiful pictures and video!

  7. Loved the video. I wonder what all that buzzing inside the flower was about? Thanks for the explination about cleaning off the pollen.

  8. Squirrel - I can't remember the term, but bumble bees do this vibration thing in flowers that jiggles the pollen off the anthers and onto their bodies - it's a really neat behavior. I'll look it up and write about it.