Saturday, April 18, 2009

Groundsel in Bloom

The largest family of the flowering plants is the composite, or sunflower, family. The composites are among those families of flowering plants considered important for the bees, as they produce large quantities of nectar and pollen. From the nectar, bees get carbohydrates; from the pollen they get proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. When the bees mix the nectar and pollen, they have a complete diet. A diversity of wildflowers makes for good nutrition for the honey bee and other pollinators. The diversity also adds to the differences in flavors of honey from one area to another. Honey harvested from the same area will change from year to year as different flowers bloom in response to changing weather conditions.

One of the common composites is groundsel, also known as butterweed. Groundsel is fairly common in the alluvial soil of the delta. This wildflower, which grows to about three feet in height, can be found in the woods and fields. On this sunny spring day the groundsel attracted numerous honey bees. Orange colored pollen can be seen on the pollen baskets on the bees' hind legs.

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