I knew this one was a legume since during my first driving by, I thought it was a black locust. I had taken photos of bees on black locusts but that day, after the MBA board meeting, I suddenly wanted to take some more shots. Maybe that tree was just too pretty to pass. I thought it was close by, but could not find the tree after walking one whole mile with a 30 lb bag (I forgot to unload my laptop computer!). I stopped under a big horse chestnut tree (almost near Harrison!) with white flowers and was wondering why I would mistook that tree for a black locust. I walked back toward my packing lot and looked more closely on the right side… The tree was near MAC street and I missed it first time due to too many white tents there for the Art Festival. I stopped and took some shots. One large bee (I ought it was a carpenter bee at the time, but now I can see she has pollen baskets…I am pretty sure carpenters bees do not have pollen baskets) was foraging for pollen and nectar.
I emailed Dr. Frank Telewski (the Curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum and a Professor in Plant Biology) asking what it was since I knew it was not a black locust nor Sophora japonica (which has not bloomed yet). I was told it was Kentucky yellowwoods (Cladrastis kentukea, Fabaceae).
1. Beautiful white flowers, not as thick as black locust.
2. A single branch with flowers.
3. A bumble bee queen with pollen.
4. The same girl
5. Cropped vertically.
6. A few days back I saw a tree blooming in front of the IM West. I thought it was a Meliaceae, since the flowers were not typical at all for a legume! but honey bees were there. Dr. Telewski said it was Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus. Fabaceae). Today (May 24th, 2012) I saw a male tree in the Beal Botanical Garden, almost ready to bloom. Pete who works at the garden says the tree is diecious, meaning they have male and female trees. I am assuming the ones I shot were females. So there you go! two trees blooming now with Kentucky in their names…both should have nectar and pollen for honey bees.
7. I had to use my 180 mm Macro to get larger bees.
8. Side view.
I dedicate these photos to my mother who is always hardworking, as the bees on these irises.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!
Photos taken on May 7th, 2012. I spent about two hours shooting peonies, hawthorn and indigo bushes, then called a friend at the Botany Institute (under the CAS, Chinese Academy of Sciences). It turns out that they also have a botanic garden. They have a large garden full of various irises. I tried to find bees there since I have seen bees foraging on them last time in the Beijing Botanic Garden and also once at Lake Lansing Park. There were indeed many bees!
1. This purple one, I think we have it here also. but its color is difficult to reproduce on a digital camera. I might need to bring a white board again for manually setting the white balance.
2. A bee in flight, the bee was a bit too fast and got blurred…but it enhanced the sense of motion.
3. Going all the way to reach the nectar. this is a lighter, shorter species/variety.
5。 the thorax was full of pollen
6。The bee on the yellow iris was most cooperative.
7。It appears they have nectar outside right on the petal?
8。 She must be licking nectar.
9。 Then tried to get inside.
10。 There appeared to be a crack.
11。 Hovering again.
Obviously it would be a yes! but I have never seen bees on them in my own garden. Right now ants are working on the unopened bulbs of peonies. But I know that bees do forage on them because last time I took photos of them when I was at the Beijing Botanic Garden which was quite close (less than 1 km away) to the Honey Bee Research Institute of CAAS (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences). That was April 2001, when I was armed with my (still working) Nikon CP990 (3.2 megapix). I thought it was time to update these photos, but my only chance would be at the same place where bees are plenty and for some reason they do visit on these flowers. The fact that I saw bees foraging on boxelders (and willows) in Jilin one week earlier, tells me that sometimes you need lots of bees close-by to see them foraging on a certain plant. Ditto for seeing tons of bees on redbuds in Jiangxi (again I have looked, and waited for bees to appear on these flowers in Michigan but to no avail).
So I set off to the garden at 7 am with a ride from a friend, the day before I left China, May 7th. To my dismay I found 99% of flowers gone in the tree peony (tree peonies have stems surviving the winter and blooms earlier) garden. Luckily I saw peonies (peonies have their stems die off during winter, but their roots remain alive as a perennial) still going strong next door. I happily spent the next hour also shooting them and hunting for bees. I did not see Apis cerana on these flowers, but they were close-by since I later found both species foraging on sumac flowers. .
1. The red ones has strange reflections that I did not see with my naked eyes but my camera would show it. No, I did not use flash. These are reflections of the sunlight.
2. The same in a different posture. The bees seems to be getting both nectar and pollen, but perhaps mainly pollen.
3. This one on a white flower.
4. Another color, pinkish.
5. the same flower.
6. Do bees have aggregation pheromone or not? Notice no bees on the left one but more than 5 on the right one.
7. A closeup showing five bees.
8. Even more bees now.
9. A white one with lots of bees also.
11. They were in a frenzy to dig for the pollen, biting and tearing the anthers.