Category Archives: bee behavior

Spring flower 3: Scilla

Family  Asparagaceae
Subfamily Scilloideae
Genus Scilla
Common name squill, scilla
ZBAS*: 7

Scilla flowers is also an early spring flower, basically at the same time as crocus, or slightly after. Also a bulb flower. Bees also love this flower. I guess the flowers here are all S. siberica.

1. This is a solitary bee. We planted a few in our front yard and I see bees occasionally. The following photo was taken on April 5, 2005 (On the same day! But 14 years ago!), Beal Botanical Garden Michigan State University.

2. This is a honey bee Apis mellifera. The pollen is a pretty color of blue.

3. A bee in flight towards the Scilla flowers.

4. This was published on the cover of the American Bee Journal, March 2013.

5. Another pretty, but easily confused flower, is Chionodoxa, which belongs to the same subfamily. Some botanists do not separate the two genus, placing both in the same genus Scilla. I distinguished the two flowers by the shape of the central part (anthers and stigma). The anthers are fused as a tube in Chionodoxa, but in Scilla they are separated. Chionodoxa generally faces upwards, and Scilla faces down. I do not know whether all Scilla have the beautiful blue pollen, but the pollen of Chionodoxa is yellow or white. Chionodoxa has many flowers at the same level, but Scilla is usually 2-3 flowers separated on the same stem.

6. The honey bees like chionodoxa as well, the pollen of this flower is yellow.

7. This chionodoxa is white, with faint blue stripes, very pretty.

8. Taken by my cell phone while at UIUC in 2018, on the Qingming Festival (the day people remembering their dead relatives in China).

9. They trembled in the cold wind and I did not see honey bees that day.