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bee on chives

Pollen Thief

Saturday, 1st June 2002, West Yorkshire

blue damselflyA warm day, the nearest we've had to summer so far. The first few blue damselflies, and later a red, are active around the pond.

bee on aquilegiaLike the last bit of ice cream in a cornet, the nectar in aquilegia lies at the bottom end of a long thin cone. The flower is designed to attract long-tongued bees. As I watch the bees working the garden border I notice that one short-tongued bumblebee has found a way of cheating the aquilegia's elegant arrangements for pollination by breaking in at the 'backdoor' of the flower. It buzzes busily from bloom to bloom, quickly checking the tip of each spur.

On some it stays a little longer and I get the impression that it is piercing a hole or enlarging an existing puncture.

It carries pollen on the 'pollen baskets' on its hind legs. This pollen is probably from another flower; the bee doesn't go in the 'front door' of the aquilegia, so it doesn't brush past its page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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