Bill Dunson, born in rural Georgia, skipped 12th grade and went directly to Yale. He subsequently received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan. Bill is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University, thanks to a career spent teaching and researching the physiological ecology and ecotoxicology of reptiles, amphibians and fish. Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. Join him as he observes our better nature on the Island, his newest home.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Fwd: Bee? On fire cracker bush?
The message below was an answer I sent to a friend in Venice, FL, who asked me about a so-called "fire cracker" plant in his yard that was visited by bees.
A very nice photo and getting the bee in flight is hard!
This is not a fire cracker plant but a native firebush, Hamelia patens. The name firecracker is usually applied to Russelia , a native of Mexico, which has somewhat similar flowers but very different leaves ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russelia).
I predict that the bumblebee will not be able to drink nectar from the firebush flower without biting the base of the flower and stealing the nectar. The corolla tube is far too long for its tongue and too narrow. Watch the bee closely when it lands on the flower and see what it does- I predict it will go to the base of the flower tube and bite through. I see this all the time with honeybees on Cape honeysuckle flowers, and some bees on flowers of Abelia.
I have seen mainly zebra (longwings), gulf fritillaries and hummingbirds on flowers of firebush. They have long and narrow tongues which can reach the base of the flower.
Firebush is the champion great bush for the yard since it provides nectar, fruit and cover for insects and birds. It is however quite sensitive to frosts and will be frozen back if planted inland. It is also mainly a summer bloomer.