The Opium EatersTuesday 4th July 2000
THE OPIUM POPPY in the garden boder grows so tall that it's easy for me to peer in and see what the bees are up to. Honey Bees collect pale yellow pollen in 'baskets' on their backlegs.
A small Bumblebee flies into the same flower and, with some difficulty, pushes itself down amongst the stamens. For a second or so it buzzes, without, as far as I can see, moving its wings. I'm convinced that it is using the burst of sounds, or at least the vibrations of its body, to shake loose the pollen. There are so few flowers and so many bee visitors that a trick like this for collecting the pollen just as soon as it is ready must be a great help.
The sketch of the opium poppy seedhead (above right) was made last August, when the seeds has ripened and birds pecked at the seedcase. I'm surprised at this time of year how soon the globular seedhead grows after the mauve petals of the poppy fall. Each flower seems to last no more than a day.