Saturday, 19 November 2011

Winter bees on Mahonia

A lovely, still sunny day, I walk to a clump of Mahonia on a corner of an avenue. I have posted about this bug magnet in previous years (here, here and here) At this time of the year, Mahonia (Oregon Grape) is on bloom, its sweet scent and profuse, sunny-bright yellow flower spikes attract all late nectar lovers. Today, the bushes were busy, Bluebottles, Drone flies, honeybees and three (!) bumblebee species were feeding on it. A Bombus pratorum queen about to land, with a dronefly on the foreground on the top photo. This is one of the garden plants that are likely to have contributed to favour winter colonies in bumblebees. Bugs love this bush, and so do I. 
Bombus terrestris queen. I have seen a worker this week too.
Bombus hypnorum
Honeybee
Dronefly and bluebottle

3 comments:

Phil said...

You may know this already, but Mahonia has touch-sensitive stamens - if you poke the bottom of a stamen filament (presumably mimicking a bee's foot) it moves inwards. I love the scent of this plant - and the colour of the wood, which is the same as the colour of the flowers when you prune old branches.

Blackbird said...

I didn't know that stamens were touch sensitive, Phil, does the movement increase the chances of pollen dehiscence? I must try that. I also didn't know the wood was yellow. I haven't got any Mahonia in the garden, a large bush for my small garden.

Phil said...

It is a large shrub for a small garden - I only know the wood is yellow when freshly cut because mine got far too big and I had to cut it back. I'd guess the movement of the stamens presses them against the visiting bee's leg - Mahonia flowers have the same mechanism.