Tag Archives: bees

Passion Flower and the Bees

I’ve never grown a passion flower plant before but at the end of the season, a local gardening center had the passion flower “Incense” at a great price so I decided to give it a try.

Passion Flower Incense

Passion Flower Incense

The plant didn’t do much for the first month; it just sat there in the garden, working to get established.

But now it’s starting to grow and is becoming filled with flowers.

Yesterday I noticed something about the way a bee interacts with a passion flower. It’s clear that the bee wants to get to the nectar and the nectar appears to be found in the center of the flower. But in making its way to the center, something interesting happens.

The male reproductive organ of the flower – the stamen – has two parts: the filament and the anther. The filament is simply the stalk that supports the anther. The anther is what produces pollen.

Passion flowers have five anthers and each of them open facing down. That means that when the bee crawls into the center of the flower, its back gets coated with pollen from the anthers.

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The female part of the flower is the pistil and the end of the pistil, the stigma, is where the pollen needs to land in order for the flower to be fertilized. The way the passion flower is set up makes it hard for the pollen to get to the stigma; that is, unless a bee is present.

After digging around in the center of the flower, the bee is coated in pollen. When the bee takes flight or lands on another passion flower, there’s a good chance that it might bump into one of the three stigmas of the flower with its pollen covered body. And when it does, fertilization takes place.

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I’m liking the passion flower plant. The flowers are interesting and seeing the bees pollination them is even more interesting!

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Want Bees? Grow Lavender!

Everyone understands the importance of having pollinators in the garden. If you’re growing fruit trees, squash, cucumbers and other crops, you need insects to pollinate the flowers so that the fruit can set.

lav1I’ve never been very intentional about attracting pollinators to the garden. They always just seem to be there. But I’ve always noticed what plants seem to attract these insects. One of the best plants for bringing bees the to garden seems to be lavender.

This easy to grow perennial is a bee magnet. When the lavender is blooming, one plant can easily be swarming with over a dozen bees. The lavender plant that’s in bloom right now is especially attractive to bumblebees. While a nearby russian sage has honey bees flying around its blooms, the lavender has nothing but bumblebees visiting its flowers.

Lone Bee the Found the Borage!

Lone Bee the Found the Borage!

I also have a volunteer borage plant growing near the lavender. Borage is supposed to be a great plant for attracting bees but when there’s lavender nearby, the bees ignore the borage and head straight to the lavender!

Growing lavender is easy. While starting it from seed can be a challenge due to slow and sporadic germination, if you start with a small plant from a nursery, it’s hard to go wrong. Lavender likes full sun but doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. It’s ignored by rabbits (yeah!) and the only thing it can’t tolerate is heavy, wet soil. If you want more plants, you can take cuttings and root them easily. And when the plant starts to bloom, you can cut some of the flowers and dry them for potpuorri or to use as dried flowers.

lav5After seeing how well the lavender has grown and how the rabbits leave it alone, I’ve planted a small bed of lavender near the front door. The location is warm and sunny and the plants should make an easy to maintain “hedge” that will draw in the bees.

I’m also thinking about taking some cuttings, rooting them and planting them in the vegetable garden. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few more bees working in the garden.

So if you want bees, try some lavender – it’s sure to bring them into your yard.

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