Friday, August 27

Choking on pollen

When we took over one of our plots we inherited two globe artichoke plants. We have never harvested the artichokes (it seems far too faffy to prepare and cook them) but we've left them in place for a couple of reasons. One is that they are really ornamental and the other is that the bees absolutely love the flowers.
The flowers are often swarming with bumble bees but never quite as many bees as shown in this video clip. It's quite difficult to count how many bees exactly as they are swallowed up by the flower as they forage and keep appearing and disappearing. I think that these are honey bees but I am a bit puzzled as to why I can't spot any pollen baskets - surely honeybees would be stocking up to take pollen and nectar back to the hive.

Any beekeepers out there who can explain? (Thanks for the explanation Tanya - see comment)
I'm happy now that they are honey bees especially as they also have been seen visiting our cardoon and this time were filling their pollen baskets.

There's an article about bees with more videos and photos on my website here


  1. One thing is sure - bees love artichoke flowers.
    I was just thinking of growing artichoke, this is one more reason to do it.
    I think that these are honey bees, but don't know the answer to your question.

  2. I'm pretty sure they are honey bees too but is it just that they are gobbling all the goodies for themselves without thinking of those back at the hive?

  3. I agree, quite beautiful and worth growing just for the flowers. I've tried for two years to get some plants going but not having a lot of success yet.

  4. We have two plants BW both inherited and one does much better than the others. We have a couple of huge cardoons which have the same flowers (equally loved by the bees)and we grew them from seed. It was really easy - the only trouble is the wind tends to flatten them

  5. okay...bees all look so similar so it is really hard to say without actually being face to face with one which you have could very easily be either a honey bee or a mining bee. Either which way they are probably collecting nectar (which is in the from of a clear liquid) at this point instead of pollen which is stored in like a 'second' stomach hence the reason you can't see it. It is the nectar that is turned into honey and not the pollen. I could go into a lot more detail as to why what is done and when but I won't as it is only supposed to be a quick comment...however after seeing your video I now really want to grow artichokes!! :-)

  6. Hi Tanya,
    Now you have explained that the bees collect pollen and nectar separately I'm pretty confident that they are honey bees - and we did have them visit again this time with bulging pollen baskets. I thought that they did both at once!!!

  7. sometimes they just depends on what they need....the pollen is collected and fed to the 'baby bees' and the nectar is for honey making....this late in the season it stands to reason that they don't need quite so much pollen I suppose!!

  8. Thanks for the explanation Tanya


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