Posts Tagged ‘Yellow-faced Bumble Bee’

2A Johann's Three Echiums

June 6, 2018…..I can’t say if these echiums are “Towers of Jewels” or “echium Pininana,” but I’m quite sure they came from the seeds of my original single plant purchased from my favorite nursery in October of 2013.  They called it a “Tower of Jewels.”  “Your bees will love it.”  They were right.

A couple of years ago, Johann, one of our young neighbors, wanted to start a garden.  My wife and I grow many bee-loving flowers and donated a couple of little echium starts to him for as you may know, once an echium decides to bloom, it will attract the pollinators and start many little seedlings.

On one of our daily walks last month, Johann flags us down,   “You know those plants you gave me?  They grew real tall.”  He pointed them out and I could see the tops of them from the backyard.  I haven’t made any videos for a long while and asked if I could shoot one.  Then I remembered that he was a musician…maybe he could provide some music.  This is the collaboration along with some scenes from around the neighborhood.


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5455 Poppies, 6-1-17

Poppies are open.

5494 Painted Lady on D.Ninebark, 6-5-17

A Painted Lady adorns a Diablo Ninebark.

5321 Three pink echium towers, 5-22-17.JPG++++

Three pink echium spires made it through the winter.


Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower) is ready to entertain bees and butterflies.

5698 First Gazania, 6-18-17

Mid June, the first Gazania, grown from seed, finally opens up.

5778 Oranges and blues, 6-23-17

Buttons and poppies.

5759 Sue's CA poppies, 6-23-17

More California Poppies

5625 Carmen poses, 6-13-17

Carmen poses on the comfortably warm metal table. (Might be time for a catnap)

5730 Sue plants 3rd set of cabbages, 6-18-17JPG

Sue plants 3rd set of cabbages.

5586 Mustard still flowering, Warré hive, 6-10-17

We let these mustard greens flower for the bees. They will come out in another week or so.

5456 Mulched potato vines today, 6-1-17

Potatoes are looking good.

5738 Solar oven, beans done, 6-18-17

A hot day calls for some solar baked beans. My favorite recipe is white beans with Fakin-Bakin Tempeh, and mustard greens.

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5314 Lupines, 5-22-17.JPG++++

May 22, 2017…Lupines, planted from seed last year are bringing in the bees.

When I saw all the bees on the Lupines I got out the camera.  I noticed the bees would land on the bottom petals (referred to as ‘wings or sails,’).  They would separate and what looked like a spike (referred to as a ‘keel’) would rise up.  When the bee lifted off, the petals (wings) snapped shut over the keel.  I had to find out more, so I consulted with Darcy Grahek of “Go Native Nursery,” at Bandon High School.  Darcy said that the stigma (female parts) AND the anthers (male parts) are contained within the keel.

5436A Bee lifts off Lupine flower after pollination copy

May 30…Bee lifts off lupine blossom after rubbing it’s body on the ‘keel.’ Petals (or ‘wings’) will close over keel. Watching the video, you’ll see the stigma poking up through the tip of the keel after the bee lifts off.



By rubbing it’s body on the keel, the bee pollinates the flower when the anthers touch the stigma and the bee picks up pollen. For a more detailed explanation scroll to lupin in Sexual Reproduction in Plants, by Johny Thomas.

5522 Lupine "Keel", 6-10-17.JPG++++

The ‘keel’

5578A Lupine, inside the "Keel", 6-10-17.JPG++++ copy

I pulled off the outside petals (referred to as sails or wings) of the keel, revealing the pollination parts of the flower. The female part is the stigma (longer). The male parts are the anthers which can be seen atop the (shorter) filaments. When the bee rubs it’s abdomen against the keel, the pollen on the anthers comes in contact with the stigma and pollination occurs while the bee is rewarded with grains of pollen. Win-win.

The Bird’s Foot Trefoil uses a similar type of pollination.


Many thanks to Gerard van Duinen of La Tabù, for giving me permission to use his delightful composition, Hijo #1, in the video.


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I love the May garden. Everything is so lush and and green.

3002 Garden looking SW, 5-8-16JPG

May 8…Looking over the garden to the southwest, Sue’s foxgloves (grown from seeds) provide the foreground colors, the volunteer Tower of Jewels (or echium Pininana) to the left, yellow turnip and kale flowers all attract the bees.

3007 Potatoes, peas, cultivator, 5-8-16

The potatoes are up.  I just tilled between the rows with the little cultivator below.

3009 Cultivator, 5-8-16

For several years, we tried to garden without using fossil fuel. We prided ourselves on the ability to spade the garden and then hoe out the weeds. But now we’re several years older. Last month when we were faced with the task of planting potatoes, my wife says, “Let’s get the old Troy-Bilt tiller out.” Yes, it started on the second pull, but it also is waaaay too big for the raised beds. Reverse doesn’t work on it anymore and plus…it uses fossil fuel!!! Enter the battery-powered Greenworks cultivator. It’s easy to use, works well in the raised beds, and USES NO FOSSIL FUELS!

2988 Peas growing outside, first time 20 yrs, 5-6-16

Peas planted outside…first time in about 25 years (because of the deer fence.)  I added a couple of rows of carrots in the middle after I tilled it one more time.

3005 Buckwheat, tomatoes, peas+carrots, potatoes, 5-8-16

Buckwheat is growing well, tomatoes need cages, peas and carrots, potatoes in far back.

2931 Sue plants corn, 5-2-16

May 2…..Sue plants some corn.

2941 Sue plants lettuce, 5-3-16

…and a second batch of lettuce.

2998 Tall lobelia transp. 5-8-16

Just for the fun of it, we bought some giant lobelia (Lobelia fistulosa) for the hummingbirds and bees. A daisy to the left and the Knockout dahlia in the center back. The dahlia has flowers that attract leaf cutter bees (at 1:18)  It’s fun to watch the leaf cutters in action.

3036 Creative drip watering, 5-10-16

II had to get creative with the drip water grid for the squash. I’ve been accused of planting the squash too close together in years past. This time, there are only 5 hills here, where I’ve planted 10 or more hills before. The idea is we will get more if we don’t crowd them. I left the turnip flowers for the bees (and for next year’s seeds)

3034 Drip watering Hubbard, 5-10-16JPG

Drip watering gets the water to the customer without wasting any.

3032 Drip watering squash, 5-10-16

Another look at it…I think these are Sugar Pie Pumpkins.

2944 Hubbard near, pumpkins far, 5-3-16

There’s never enough room for squash. We are trying some ‘container squash’ this year. It’ll trail down over the stump grinding experiment.

3023 Squash barrels, 5-10-16

These squash are up against the fence for a reason. They get the morning and afternoon sun. We might try using the fence to trellis them. The upside…more squash. The downside, I’ve got to water by hand unless I figure out a drip water solution.

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May 29, 2014...At one time there were five bees in here.  By the time I grabbed the camera they had all left the scene.

May 29, 2014…My wife said there were five bees on this earlier, but when I grabbed the camera, I only caught one bee.

May 28, 2014...The New Zealand Cabbage trees are blooming.  Our bees love it.

May 28, 2014…My neighbor’s  New Zealand Cabbage trees are blooming. I’m glad it’s on someone else’s property because there is a strong odor associated with it.  Our bees love it.

May 28, 2014...New Zealand Cabbage has been blooming awhile.  There is  a strong odor that attracts the bees as they are numerous.

May 28, 2014…New Zealand Cabbage has been blooming awhile.  Our bees are all over it, all day.

May 27, 2014...A skipper is probing the depths for nectar.  In the video, you can see it try several spots before finally succeeding.  The bees love this plant as well.

May 27, 2014…A skipper is probing the depths of this Pink Chintz Thyme for nectar. In the video, you can see it try several spots before finally succeeding. The bees love this plant as well.

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Oregon Grape-Holly

Oregon Grape-Holly blooming in late November

Most visitors to the post office go to get their mail.  These visitors go to get nectar.  The Oregon Grape Holly is in full bloom, offering nectar and nectar is what they got.  Honeybees, bumblebees, even a couple of green hummingbirds partake in the feast.

What is the importance of nectar?   My Biodiversity Garden states “Nectar is the fuel for our pollinators such as solitary bees, bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, moths and bats. It is the only source of energy and without it, the pollinators cannot fly. Nectar is secreted by nectaries within the flower.”

According to Dave’s Gardens  Mahonia Aquifolium blooms in mid spring.  This is late November!  The plant is growing against a brick wall, facing south, during an unseasonably dry autumn.  In any case, the wild pollinators love it.

November 24th...This honeybee is getting nectar from an early blooming Oregon Grape Holly

November 24th…This honeybee is getting nectar from an early blooming Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia Aquifolium)

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July 30, 2013...A pollen covered wasp takes off from the Poor Man's Orchid

July 30, 2013…A pollen covered wasp takes off from Barbara’s Poor Man’s Orchid

On our morning walk we pass Barbara’s well-maintained flower garden.  Today, Barbara called out, “Pat, did you see those white bees?”  I had never heard of white bees so we looked carefully.  They were certainly white, but I couldn’t get a good fix on them as they were darting in and out of the flowers so fast.  After I replayed the videos I could see what they were…wasps and bumblebees covered with white pollen.

This could be a Yellow-faced Bumble Bee,  Bombus vosnesenskii, or possibly a Bombus Californicus...I can't tell the difference.

This could be a Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, or possibly a Bombus Californicus…I can’t tell the difference.  The video shows this bee backing out of the flower and getting a trail of pollen up her back.

Poor Man's Orchids

Lots of nice bee flowers here…in the foreground are the Poor Man’s Orchids.

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