Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bottle Gentian and the Bumblebee

Saturday, the Ohio Heritage Naturalist group descended upon Cave Lake YMCA Park to check out the flora and fauna. Right inside the gate, we were greeted with the tiny tin horn call of four to five Red-breasted Nuthatches, Sitta canandensis. "Ank, ank, ank" they called as they flitted among the evergreens, plucking seeds from the cones.

Photo from Wikipedia

We decided on a side trip to neighboring Pike State Forest. There was a nice wetland area with White Turtlehead, Chelone glabra, Closed Bottle Gentian, Gentiana andrewsii, and many asters and sedges.

John Howard spotted a bumblebee on a gentian. This was something I really wanted to see! Bumblebees are pretty much the only pollinator for Closed Bottle Gentian.

The petals of this flower never open, but remain closed, causing the flower to look like it is always in bud. Bumblebees are the only insects strong enough to force their way into the flower to devour the nectar and collect the pollen. The gentian relies on this symbiotic relationship to produce seed and more little gentians.

Bottoms Up!

The group gathered around and witnessed the bee shoving itself down into the blossom. It wrestled around in there for a long time, throwing out pens, pencils, erasers and other items as it searched for the nectar. Oh, wait. I am confused. That was me earlier today looking for a battery. But in my defense, Bumble was in there an awfully long time...
I think it wrote an entire script for a B movie while it was in there. It was probably distracted by the inside of the flower. There are nectar guides to help the bumblebee find the pollen and nectar. This one seemed to be having some trouble finding it...
The blue and white stripes from the nectar guides of the gentian
Maybe it was in there making a beeaded handbag? Those can take a long time.
Or possibly cooking some Bee-f Bourguignon? It takes six hours to make that.

Finally, it made its way out of the blossom to... DIVE RIGHT INTO ANOTHER BLOSSOM.

Un-bee-lievable ! :)

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