August 2014: Notes from the Garden Shed

“The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers”  The line from the poem ‘Naming of Parts’ by Henry Reed came to mind recently while watching our Skip Garden Honey Bees feeding on the flowers of our Blackcurrant Sage (Salvia microphylla) bush in the Orchard Skip, writes Paul Richens.

They’ve found a way of getting to the nectar sacks of these deep, slimline and rather beautiful cerise flowers. They do this by biting a hole near the base of the flower then poking their heads in and drinking the nectar.

I’m not sure what the plant thinks of this trick that circumvents their pollination ambitions but we’ve been helping increase the world population of Blackcurrant Sage by taking some hard cuttings so hopefully we’ve helped maintained the balance.

This is a famous trick that Bumblebees have perfected to get to the nectar sacks of the deep bell-like flowers of comfrey that even their long tongues can’t reach – so who taught whom?

Of course it’s not just the bees that have tricks up their (virtual) sleeves. My personal favourite is using a small spot of yellow paint on cabbage leaves to deter our friend the Large White butterfly (Pieris brassicae) from laying her eggs.

She sees the yellow paint spot (which looks like a raft of yellow Large White eggs) and thinks that another Large White has beaten her to it and passes on.

No butterflies were hurt during the making of this coleslaw.

Happy harvesting!