Monday, June 24, 2013

Buzzbumping at the tiki torch bar happy hour!

The other night, I was swinging on my porch swing and sipping an adult beverage with cats and dog at my feet and boyfriend by my side; the sun was setting, and I was admiring how the torch lilies were blooming like gang busters in front of me.  I had originally planted only two plants; but, now these lilies had budded and split in the intervening two years and grown into mega clumps, which maybe doesn't sound attractive, but actually is.  A torch lily jungle lay before my eyes and truly looked like little tiki torches; too bad they aren't real lights in the dark, as they'd be very romantic.
I discovered torch lilies, also known as "red hot pokers", after a trip to England to survey cottage rose gardens on a trip that my mom, a Consulting Rosarian, lead 10 years ago. I had never before seen them, but the British have them blooming in every garden accenting their rose blooms in the month of June, and I decided I had to have some for my own rose gardens when I got home.

These lilies, like many flowers, bloom from the bottom up.  Their flowers are clustered in a circle around the core stem and continue from about 4 inches from the top all the way to the top; they aren't very big flowers, and they are yellow or orange or red. And they really don't look like they'd support much in the way of either nectar or pollen.  Ah, but there was one of my honey bee girls buzzing around them.  On closer look, there were many of my honey bee girls buzzing around them! 

And, on an even closer look, there were my girls, bumble bees, sweat bees, bee flies, leaf cutter bees, and several kinds of paper and mud dauber wasps buzzing around them.  In fact, they were being quite territorial, and buzzbumping each other off of the flowers to get to the ones they wanted; "I was here first!"

Those that were successful were climbing all the way up into the tiny flowers to the point that their little abdominal butts were all that was left visible.  As they did so, their pollen sacs were being loaded with a bright orangey yellow pollen. 

The sun was almost set and it was now 8:30 pm; we'd been watching for about an hour.  The summer solstice was upon us, so the days had become much longer.  But, there was still a lot of light in the sky.  The girls kept coming, flying from the backyard hives, over the house, and into the lilies.  The word was obviously out!  It's happy hour at the local neighborhood tiki torch bar! Come one, come all!

Since bees use the sun to navigate to and from their hives, I was wondering how late they would stay.  I soon got my answer.  Promptly at 8:35 pm, no more honey bees.  The bumble bees lingered a bit longer sipping in the nectar.  But, all the other bees and wasps were now gone, too.  A hummingbird dropped in briefly for a sip, and was gone. Last call, the bar doors were closing.  By 9:00 pm, the bumble bees were all gone, too.

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