Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bees foraging on loeberi magnolia flowers

March 21, 2012, After I finished shooting the cherry blossoms, I wandered to behind Natural Science Building to see what was blooming there.  Many beautiful magnolia trees were blooming with nice fragrance.

One label I found read “Magnolia x loebneri”, Missouri Botanic Garden says:

“Loebner magnolia is a deciduous hybrid magnolia (M. kobus x M. stellata). It is a small tree typically growing to 20-30’ tall with a rounded crown. It is more often grown in a multi-trunked form that as a single trunk tree. Fragrant star-like white flowers (4-6” wide) with 10-15 petals appear in early spring before the foliage (March – April in St. Louis). Flowers give way to cone-like fruits that ripen to red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity. Fruits are sometimes absent on this hybrid. Obovate, medium green leaves (to 5” long). Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715). Specific epithet honors Max Loebner, a German horticulturist, who made the first cross of this hybrid in the early 1900s. A number of hybrid cultivars are now available in commerce featuring flowers that are white, blush-pink, lilac pink or pink.”

I was truly fortunate that day…for I saw many bees foraging on the flowers! Not only they were carrying nice big pollen loads, they were also actively probing for nectar. I only saw one bee foraging on one type of magnolia in Hunan, and then again in Kunming, but the flowers were tall on the trees and I could not get good shots.  This particular day, some bees were foraging on low flowers, allowing me to take some very tight closeups.

1. near the top some are still buds.

2. lower branches are in full broom.

3. A honey bee comes and challenges me to take a shot of her.

4. getting closer..

5. The flash somehow washed out the color for this one..

6. a bee in flight.

7. probing for nectar.

8. with pollen and trying for nectar.

9. same bee


10. this flower has the petals flipped over.

12. closer.

13. another bee, pollen basket is mostly empty.

14. another one with pollen.

15. my best shot…did not lighten the bee yet, but the faint colors on the flipped petal creates a rainbow above the bee!

16. a cropped version.

Thank you!

Zachary Huang