In my new garden, I have lovely oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) in a classic shade of red. These have impressively large flowers and long fern-like foliage. I used to have a few different species of poppy in my old gardens in Iowa, but I haven't had these before. I have been enjoying their showy blossoms for a few days now, and I know the blossoms usually don't last long on poppies, so I am enjoying them while I can.
I went out to take some pictures of them and discovered that they are apparently a favourite of local bees. I am quite sure that the bee who is busy gathering from this poppy is a honey-bee (Apis mellifera), although I'm not a bee expert, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
This bee is very busy indeed, and alighting on the anthers and rolling around inside the flower gathering pollen. Sometimes the bee appears to get a bit stuck under all those anthers and it makes furious buzzing noises before emerging in a bit of a huff. It then flies up a bit, and re-lands on the crown of the flower, which will eventually become a seedpod.
Here you can see the dense dark poppy pollen that has collected on the rear part of the bee's abdomen.
He also has a lot of pollen that he's collected on his legs. That area of a bee's leg is called the "pollen basket" which I think is a rather endearing term for a insect leg! It's like he's got a suitcase with him.
A new poppy flower was opening this morning. You can see how dark the anthers are on this one in comparison to the other blossom - that's because the bee hasn't been collecting here yet. Soon he will find it and begin his task, no doubt.
I found a different bee species collecting nectar from my batchelor's button (Centaurea montana) flowers. This is a 'bumble bee' (Bombus species, although I don't know which one). Such a difference from one flower to another, and one bee to another.
I think this was the best photograph I managed to take today - I caught the bee's wing in flight, which makes an interesting translucent flash on the photograph, and you can see its proboscis, which is ready to take the nectar from the flower. You can also see an ant watching the bee. I didn't notice it while I was taking the picture.
I hope I have a few more days to admire the beautiful structure and design of the poppy flowers. To me, they are a stunning example of Mother Nature's incredible diversity.