Sleeping Bees

While I was out rummaging in the garden several mornings ago, I made a surprising discovery:

I found a bee asleep in one of my hollyhock blossoms.

You’ll have to take my word for it, I suppose. But you can kinda tell by the way she is deep inside the flower, and yet not gathering pollen.

Metallic green bee asleep deep in a hollyhock blossom. See how she is covered in those big white pollen grains? It look like she just couldn’t go any further and had to sleep.

I knew bees slept — I don’t know of a creature that doesn’t, except things like protozoans and bacteria and such.

Bumble bee sleeping on the outside of an opening hollyhock flower.

But I had always assumed that bees go back to their hives to sleep.

Huge bumble bee sleeping on a sunflower.

By the time I took this photo of a huge bumblebee sleeping on a sunflower, the bees were beginning to warm up, and wake up. The next bee I saw was slowly flexing its abdomen to get the juices going. Then it took off.

When I went inside, I had to look up “bees sleeping in flowers” on the internet. Right? I mean it’s what you do. There I found this article on Bored Panda. Really great post! Interestingly, the scarlet globemallow that the bees there are curled up in is a close relative of hollyhocks. (On a photographic composition note, notice that the photographer kept zooming in on the bees until they filled the frame. Nice technique. I did that for two shots here, but held back a little for the other one because I wanted to show the bees in context.)

Hearts in Nature

Many people collect images of hearts in nature. I found this prairie coneflower as I was looking for prairie falcons this morning. (Focus on What’s at Hand)R columnifera heart-2


This is what prairie coneflower normally looks like.

Ratidiba columnifera-3

Prairie coneflower is in the sunflower family. You can see it if you mentally flatten the cone down a bit. Each of the brown stubs on the cone is a separate flower, as it true of all sunflowers.

Still not seeing prairie falcons. There is the possibility that they didn’t nest here this year.

Mathematical Patterns in Plants

One of the things that I really enjoy about nature is that it produces proofs that it obeys natural laws in the most unusual — and beautiful — ways. This spring and early summer I ran across three examples of math in plants.

Scorpianweed, like most plants in the hydrophyllaceae family, has a flower stalk that is tightly coiled. It reminds me of the shell of a nautilus seashell that gets bigger as the animal grows. The coil of each grows according the Fibonacci sequence: 1+1=2; 1+2=3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8.

Coiled scorpionweed flowers follow the Fibonacci sequence.

Coiled scorpionweed flowers follow the Fibonacci sequence.

For scorpionweed, though, at the top of the curl is an open flower. As the flower fades, the stem uncurls to allow another flower to come to the top and open.

When you look at the face of a sunflower, you are really looking at many many flowers that grow on a central disk. These flowers follow the Fibonacci sequence as well, but here it shows up as ever expanding spirals on the disk face.

Disk of the sunflowers is made up of spirals of flowers that follow the Fibonacci sequence.

Disk of the sunflower is made up of spirals of flowers that follow the Fibonacci sequence.











Finally, I was astounded by this picture.

The flowers of miner's candle march up the stalk in spirals.

The flowers of miner’s candle march up the stalk in spirals.
















What I thought I was taking a picture of was the really cool butterfly on the miner’s candle, in the borage family. It was only when I was sprucing the picture up that I realized that the white flowers were arranged in several spirals, or helixes. The geometry here is a bit more complicated, but the flowers do indeed appear on the stalk with mathematical precision.

There is order in the universe, and you can see it in the math of plants.