If you remember my post last week about the lovely double Rose of Sharon (A Proven Winners Sugar Tip–just so we’re clear what I’m discussing in case you don’t remember) where the bees were having trouble finding pollen, you may remember I was questioning whether it was sterile and whether it was “bad for bees?”
I spent a long time just watching the bumble bees at that same shrub over the weekend. There were a lot of them there. Only one had any pollen at all on it, and it was not clear to me that it had gotten the pollen from that plant. Still, I did wonder if the bees would have been there at all if there were nothing to harvest.
So rather than stew about this any longer, I decided to go to the experts–Proven Winners itself. Within an hour, I had my answer. As I suspected, Sugar Tip is sterile. But even better, what was explained to me is that the reason it is sterile is because the mutation that causes those double flowers is what causes the plant to be sterile–the stamens become petals because of a natural mutation. Wow. So I was right–lovely plant, but not particularly “good for bees.”
It’s such a pretty shrub I don’t intend to remove it–and I’ve planted lots of good “bee friendly” flowering plants around it so I’m not worried about leaving it. There’s no “pollen desert” in my yard, that’s for sure.
But then I went down to the garden I created for the wildlife, where I have the more tradition Rose of Sharon plants.
Deep in this flower is a pollen covered bee. It’s so pollen covered it’s almost impossible to identify.
This is the entire plant. I had gone down to the garden to do a little pruning but was kept away from this general area by the abundance of bumble bees on this plant. It’s supposed to be a L’il Kim but clearly it’s reverted to whatever its parentage was because it is not dwarf in the least. That’s okay–its abundance of flowers makes up for its reversion.
Finally even these flowers–pass alongs from a friend, and supposedly society garlic–were covered in bees. Naturally the photo shows only one lone bumble bee, but there were several and they were chasing off the smaller bees as well.
So it’s nice to know there are places in my garden where I have some happy bees.