The bees are buzzing

January 23, 2015 | Greg Dodge

Starting in early November the Mahonia on our Dino Trail begins to bloom. Its tiny yellow flowers work their way up the plant’s long racemes. If there are any active insects about, here’s where you’ll find them, extracting nectar and, in the process, pollinating the plants.

There’s no real way of knowing (without marking them) if the honey bees that I see at the Mahonia at this time of year are from our hive in the Museum’s Insectarium, but it’s very likely that they are.

This year, the Mahonia blossoms are especially abundant in front of the Alamosaurus on the Dino Trail. Each time I walk by the long-necked dino, I give a quick look at the flowers for any active pollinators that might be present.

 

A honey bee works over the small yellow plowers of Mahonia.

A honey bee works over the small yellow plowers of Mahonia.

 

The blossoms start at the base of the raceme and work their way out to the tip.

 

Earlier in the season showing blossoms at bottom of raceme.

Earlier in the season, showing blossoms at bottom of raceme.

 

It's nearing time when the blossoms will have all bloomed.

It’s nearing time when the blossoms will have all bloomed.

 

Mahonia is native to the Pacific Northwest, as well as Asia. The genus name, Mahonia, derives from 1800s Philadelphia horticulturist Bernard McMahon who, by the way, was charged with receiving and growing the plants and seeds sent back by the Lewis and Clark expedition, which just happened to be to the Pacific Northwest.

 

Note the pollen on the bee's legs.

Note the pollen on the bee’s legs.

 

The next time you pass these flowers, be sure to give a look to see if there are any bees hovering about.

 

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