Morning glory, also called hedge bindweed, is in bloom on vines covering fences and idle farm equipment. The prolific vines cover any object in a sunny area. I found a morning glory vine climbing the rope of our old farm bell, which evidently had not been pulled in a while. The flowers are white funnels with tints of lavender. Visiting morning glory shortly after sunrise finds the blossoms being visited by numerous native pollinators. Honey bees prefer to visit flowers with a more open blossom. Click on today’s picture to see a blue orchard bee approaching a morning glory flower. Blue orchard bees, also called mason bees, are shiny, blue-black in color. They are often mistaken for bottle flies. These gentle and fast flying native bees hit a flower hard, and then scrub their bodies around the inside the flower before zooming off. In the process of scrubbing around inside the flowers, the blue orchard bees cover their bodies with pollen which they carry along to the next flower, very effectively pollinating the plant. While honey bees and bumble bees carry their pollen in pollen baskets on their hind legs, blue orchard bees carry their pollen on hairs on the underside of their abdomen.
The honey bee is the most widely employed pollinator, but our agriculture, food supply, and even our wildlife are healthier if we have a diversity of pollinators available. Having an assortment of native pollinators available within flying range of agricultural crops makes them more productive. To have a diversity of pollinators we need a diversity of flowering plants and habitats. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is dedicated to protecting pollinators The Xerces Society offers plans for managing habitat for native pollinators at their web site, http://www.xerces.org/. It is easy for us to provide flowering plants and nesting places for the blue orchard bees. They are useful and enjoyable to have in the garden.