I was trimming some weeds along a fence and noticed an interesting phenomenon taking place in the bushes. Bumblebees were visiting the flowers of Carolina rose ( Rosa carolina ), a beautiful native species that can be mistaken for the invasive exotic multiflora rose if you are not careful. You will note from the photo that the bee is out of focus, primarily because it is vibrating its body rapidly. When you see this occurring you should immediately suspect that the purpose of the flower visit is not to obtain nectar (which roses do not normally provide) but to get pollen to feed their young. Apparently the vibration releases the pollen; you will see the “pollen basket” on the hind leg of the bee already packed with yellow pollen. This may surprise you if make the assumption that all flowers produce nectar to attract pollinators. Another one of these exceptions to the general rule of nectar production by flowers is the swamp mallow or hibiscus ( Hibiscus moscheutos ) which is also visited by bumblebees only to obtain pollen for their babies.
So once again we find that nature is complex, interesting and amazing!
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA