March 26th 2014

Some flowers, like these lovely Violas, have very obvious ‘nectar-guides’ or ‘pollen-guides’ to help bees and insects make a bee-line to their nectar. The lines act like markings on a landing strip, indicating the path to the nectar. Having tempted the insects to the centre of the flower, the insects get covered with strategically placed pollen and generally carry that pollen onto another flower of the same species. The insects get energy and essential water from the nectar, and the plant gets to reproduce. Flowers can also use scent and colour to attract pollinators. However,  insects see the blue end of the colour spectrum better than us, and see ultra violet light we can’t see, and many flowers  reveal nectar guides to bees and insects when appearing single-coloured to us. Examples include many yellow flowers, like dandelions and sunflowers.

Nectar Guides on a garden Viola.

Nectar Guides on a garden Viola.

Cultivated Viola with Nectar Guides visible.

Cultivated Viola with Nectar Guides visible.

(Incidentally, so-called Blue-Whitener washing powders use a type of ultra-violet substance we can just see, which is why they appear ‘whiter-than-white’ to our eyes!). Conditions: Very gentle northerly breeze, cloud, hail and rain developing. Temperature: Max 6- Min 3c

Dandelion, now out, have nectar guides invisible to humans

Dandelion, now out, have nectar guides invisible to humans.

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