More clever bees!

More from the lush, flowering bush of Laikipia.

In this particular flower, that I photographed the Amegilla bee on, the flowers are clustered along the stems of the plant, and have an interesting shape – tubular with a slight kink in the tube that is formed by the petals. This design is in place no doubt to limit any would-be nectar robbers. Flowers often go to great (if subtle) lengths to make sure that only legitimate pollinators access the precious nectar that they secrete as a reward.

The kink in the tube is dealt with by gripping the flower, holding on and causing it to bend down. This results in the flower straightening out a bit and allows the bee to access the nectar.

Here are some amazing (and lucky) pictures that show this sequence.

First the bee approaches the flower and hovers before it for a second.

Bee approaching the flower

Bee approaching the flower

Then it lands and grabs the flower.

The bee grabs the flower

The bee grabs the flower

Now the weight of the bee holding on to the flower makes it dip. This straightens the floral tube just enough for the bee to push it’s tongue into the flower and grab a sip of nectar.

The flower is pulled down...

The flower is pulled down...

Then it takes off for the next blossom and does this all over again. The entire visit to single flower takes just 1-2 seconds!

Amegilla-Suyian-LR3

Other insects were also visiting the flowers. The butterflies solved the challenge of the bent tube with their flexible proboscis. This enables them to reach the nectar.

A Pale Ranger butterfly...

A Pale Ranger butterfly...

And this large and handsome Tabanid Fly employs a similar tactic to the bees – he pulls the flower down and reaches into it with his long, stiff proboscis.

Tabanid fly at the flowers

Tabanid fly at the flowers

More from the world of bugs soon! Thanks to everyone for the kind comments.

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