Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Salivating for Salvia

 When I was looking for bees in this sage plant, a female Anna's hummingbird swooped in and starting boldly sipping nectar just inches away from me. These birds are on a schedule and they're not going to let some nerdy bee photographer put them off. They have a knack for knowing how long it takes for key plants to refill with nectar and then they make a time table of their garden tours. There are three key plants in the garden I've seen them nectaring on: Monarda didyma, Verbena bonariensis, and this sage (I'll find out which species it is and put the info here). Have you seen the hummers visiting plants in the garden?

And then there's this character, who also loves this sage plant. This is a male European wool carder bee and he is jealously guarding the plant and keeping tabs on "his" females. He likes to perch on nearby plants, including this fading clover blossom.

The female goes in for the nectar and you can see the male hovering above her so no other male gets in and tries to mate with her. Yeah, he's THAT guy. So check out these sage plants at the garden in the pollinator border and see if he attacks any other pollinators that try to get some of that sweet nectar. As an introduced pollinator, does he make it difficult for native pollinators to feed in the garden? What implications might that have in the way we choose plants for this site?

Speaking of nectar, check out those amazing markings on the flower, called nectar guides, that signal the pollinator where the sweet stuff lies. Notice that reddish sheen on the flower? Hummingbirds are often more attracted to red plants than any other colour, but there are many exceptions. Do they somehow perceive the red highlights on this purple and white flower? In any case, they make the flower beautiful to human eyes as well!

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