I could watch bees crawl in and out of turtlehead flowers all day. Mostly it’s just bumblebees and honeybees that do this, because they’re big enough to open the flowers. And I see more bumblebees than honeybees here.
They force their way into the “mouth” of the “turtle” and rustle around inside for quite awhile, then exit and find another flower to repeat the process.
Video of a bumblebee from a few years ago:
Sometimes they need to stop and regroup after they exit, brushing the pollen off their antennae or eyes, I assume.
This flower has a honeybee inside, barely visible.
This year, at first, I thought I had noticed a difference – bumblebees climb out backwards, while honeybees turn around and climb out face-first – but then I saw a bumblebee turn around, too. (And the video above shows a bumblebee that turns around, so I had seen that before.) In fact, I don’t seem to have any photos of bumblebees backing out. So much for that theory.
This one is my favorite: looks like it was quite the effort to squeeze out of this blossom.
Only a little hint of the insect inside.
Black-eyed susans that are opening look like they’re sleepy and having a hard time waking up.
My hair is a bit wild in the morning, too.
One last stretch, and then this one will be ready.
At the end of the day, this one looks like it’s ready for sleep.
All tucked in for the night. This doesn’t look comfy to me, but what do I know? I’m not a bee.
If I were giving out an award for the most social flower of the year, black-eyed susan would win. One fun day, I spent the morning checking and rechecking on them, noticing and admiring the diversity of insects that were attracted to the blossoms. About two-thirds of these photos are from that one day alone.
Flies that look like bees:
Bees and butterflies:
Japanese beetle doing the splits:
I don’t know what this is:
And my favorite find, a camouflaged looper inchworm:
(More about this one later.)
There was also this gruesome find — one dead bee on a petal, with two dead bees and one dead fly suspended below — but then again, a spider’s gotta eat, too. (I assume that’s what created this scene.)
With so many dozens of black-eyed susans in our garden, we were bound to spot some flowers that didn’t grow quite perfectly. Here are some examples.
One petal that remained fused:
Irregular center disks:
Another type of irregular center, a condition called fasciation that causes elongated growth that’s usually in the stem, which causes the flower to be elongated too:
(I left this flower in the garden, since fasciation is not contagious.)
Aster yellows, an incurable condition caused by a bacteria that’s spread by leafhoppers:
(These affected sections of flowers were removed, because aster yellows is contagious.)
Curled petals that seem to be caused by the tear / hole near the tips:
It’s a pretty effect, but it happened to many flowers, so I’m curious whether it’s something to be concerned about. I haven’t been able to find any information about this yet.
Long petals, short petals. Skinny petals, wide petals. Single color, bicolor. You name it, we saw it somewhere in the garden this year.
The red ones likely came from a seed mix a few years ago. They started in a flower box and are now spreading on their own and may be intermingling with the native, solid-yellow, rudbeckia hirta. I think they’re called “gloriosa daisy” though which specific variety, I’m not sure; perhaps there are more than one, which is why there’s such variation.
This was a banner season for the native black-eyed susans — especially after such a lackluster year in 2016. While last year there were only a few flowers, and not any until September 19, this year they started opening up on June 20, and dozens and dozens of them kept going for weeks.
One gorgeous Sunday afternoon, I waded in close to the cluster and crouched near the ground to look up at the blue sky.
Side-by-side comparison of one flower:
Here’s one more photo of the whole bunch for good measure, from the side.