Bitterweed is now in bloom along the dry, rocky edges of gravel roads and in bare, unplowed fields. This bright yellow wildflower in the composite, or sunflower, family is a late summer blooming replacement to a series of yellow flowers that have covered the same ground throughout the year. The first was dandelion, which was followed by buttercups, groundsel, the mustards, and then tickseed coreopsis. By blooming in sequence, each plant is effectively pollinated by available bees. These plants have evolved a reproductive strategy that avoids competition for insect pollinators. Like other composites, bitterweed offers ample nectar and pollen to attract honey bees. Foragers, like the honey bee in today’s photo, are able to easily recognize bitterweed from other plants by its color and the shape and interrupted design of the flower’s petals. Click on the photo to see the bright orange-colored bitterweed pollen carried on the honey bee’s hind legs. Livestock will generally avoid eating bitterweed in a pasture, and it is said that it makes milk taste bitter if it is eaten by dairy cattle. Bitterweed is among a number of late summer and fall nectar-producing plants that give the late-season honeys a more robust flavor and aroma.
Our reader, Alan Wood, recently published an insightful piece in bestcollegesonline.com titled, 10 Valuable Life & Business Lessons You Can Learn from Bees. For example, the listing explains that honey bees are excellent communicators and that they are constantly evolving. This thought-provoking writing can be found in the website’s blog post dated August 11, 2010. This website offers a number of other useful pieces, such as 12 Essential TED Talks for Writers. The TED Talks include video presentations from authors in technology, entertainment, and design. This website offers good advice to anyone considering an online educational program. It also contains tips for success in school useful for anyone. The piece on learning from bees was written from a good understanding of honey bee biology.