I have some very clever kids in my workshops. When I tell them that flowers and bees evolved together so that big bees fit into big flowers and little bees fit into little flowers someone inevitably asks: "But Madame Beespeaker, what about little bees in big flowers?" Hmmm, very good question, grasshopper. I have some fantastic nasturtiums this year and I sit in my anti-gravity chair watching them. They are a big time-waster for honeybees who fritter around in the area above the nectary, seemingly frustrated by their inability to access the long nectar spur. I hope they get a little bit of pollen for their trouble. Bumble bees don't seem to have a problem. But what about these tiny little fellas? Halloooooo there!
One day I noticed a tiny black bee's hind end sticking out of the nectary of a nasturtium. I was concerned? Had the tiny bee drowned in an exctasy of nectar? Curiosity killed the nasturtium. I plucked it and opened it up. The bee did not budge until I ripped a seem down the nectary. It seems it was alive and well and doing fine with out me, thank you very much. So it seems little bees do fit into large flowers sometimes. Hummingbirds love nasturtiums too, so plant the bright orange and red ones for the hummers.
Another flower that appeals to medium and small-sized bees are the radishes that have bolted in the hot weather. At this time of the year they have started to set seeds and you can get your value from the plant by eating the flowers and the seed pods. In fact, you can make fritters out of radish pods and nasturtiums. Lately, I have been on a fritter binge, looking around my garden to see what I can batter and fry.
I used a recipe from the Food Network website and modified it to my taste.
The recipe uses chick pea flour, which is lovely to work with.
1 cup chick pea flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tumeric powder
3/4 cup to 1 cup water
nasturtiums and radish pods and any other garden odds and ends you want to fry
Mix up the batter so it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Heat up 2 inches of sunflower oil in a pan until it browns a spoonful of batter. Dip the blossoms in batter using the stem and nectar spur as the handle. Fry on both sides for less than a minute until browned. Use the same method with the radish pods. Serve with raita, tamarind chutney, or whatever you like.