Bumble bees are currently feasting on the nectar found in prolific bloomers such as Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulas), commonly known as bee balm. Wild bergamot is one of the best forage plants for bumble bees. As older flowers are depleted, they are replaced by newly opened ones, providing an ongoing source of nectar throughout the day. The bumble bee on the left photo, Bombus impatiens, stays below the flower anthers and stigma, to access the nectar. In the right photo, the bumble bee hovers in front of the anthers and brushes them with its mid and hind legs in order to collect pollen. The practical bees then package the pollen in baskets on their hind legs, but first they mix it with nectar to make a sticky mixture. Visit the Biocore Prairie and watch the busy bees buzzing on the flowering bergamot. Photos A. Koziol. For more fascinating information on bees and butterflies, see Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants. For more photos, see the the summary of the July Pollinator field trip with Susan Carpenter as guide.
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Gisela Kutzbach and contributors