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Life can be challenging for honey bees.

For instance, take the red bird of paradise flower.

These flowers have amazing long stamens.

See the red threadlike-structures towards the left. The bumps at the ends are the anthers that produce pollen.

Collecting that pollen from such a fragile structure can be a chore.

It requires some acrobatics, even with wings.


One honey bee is using other stamens as scaffolding of sorts.

Another tries a different approach.

It's called the fly in and grab.

Grasp the anther.

And down it goes.

It would have been better as a video, but I saw a bunch of honey bees doing this.

It looked like a ride at an an amusement park. The stamen droops with the weight of the bee then springs up again when the bee lets go.

All in a day's work, I guess.

When I visited the yard this morning to take photographs for this post, first I checked to see what was flowering. Flowers are great places to find insects.

The little leaf cordia (Cordia parviflolia) attracted my eye. It was covered with clusters of white blossoms.

The flowers were beautiful, but nothing was visiting them. In contrast, the plant next to it was humming and buzzing.

That's the wolfberry, Lycium species. It isn't much to look at from a human perspective.

From an insect's perspective, however, it was an open grocery store.

The honey bees and digger bees were lining up to sip nectar.

Smaller bees were wrapped around the anthers harvesting pollen.

When it was done, the underside of this one's abdomen was white with pollen.

Snout butterflies visited the flowers, too. They are drab when sitting like this.

Surprise!

Numerous flower flies and a few wasps flitted around. This flower or hover fly has a really big head compared to the rest of its body.

From the street (top photograph) the wolfberry bush looks like a small cluster of brownish branches on the left between the bright green Texas sage on the bottom left and the little leaf cordia. If you didn't know the wolfberry was there, you wouldn't even see it. Just the same, it provides food for hundreds of insects which in turn pollinate our gardens and serve as food for wildlife.

I hope I can continue to convince our homeowner's association that it deserves to stay.

Rosemary plants grow well here in Arizona.

This time of year, the shrubs are covered with delicate light blue or purplish flowers.

The honey bees visit the flowers in a constant stream of activity.

After watching the bees for a few minutes, you begin to notice the bees have a light-colored dusting of pollen on the back of their head and thorax.

It looks like they've been sprinkled with wheat flour.

Where is it coming from?

To answer that question, check out the structure of the rosemary flower up close. See those "antlers" sticking out of the top of the flower? The ones with the deep purple pads on the ends are the stamens. The purple pads are the anthers, where the pollen is released.

When the honey bee sticks her tongue deep into the throat of the rosemary flower to suck up the nectar at it's base, the stamen catches her on the back of her head and thorax. Like a pad full of powder, the anther dusts her with pollen.

Note:  the photographs are a bit blurry because the honey bees were visiting each flower for only seconds at time.

Have you ever seen a flower dust pollen onto a honey bee?