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Bees and Blooms

All the seedlings that I bought from Annie's Annuals are blooming!

The honey bee in the photo above is feeding on nectar and collecting pollen from a Prom Queen cosmos.

The cosmos bipinnatus is an annual plant that is somewhat drought tolerant, when growing in the ground. In a container pot, which is how I have it growing, it will need a little water several times a week. Use grey water that you saved from washing produce, boiling pasta, etc for this purpose. Cosmos grows well in the sun and will keep flowering from late spring through early autumn. It attracts bees, butterflies, and sometimes hummingbirds. Cut off the dead blossoms to encourage the plant to produce more. But if you want to save the seeds for planting, let the seedheads dry up on the plant and then collect the dried seeds.

It's fun to observe big carpenter bees feeding on nectar in smaller flowers such as Baby Blue Eyes Nemophila menziesii. See how the carpenter bee on the right is hanging upside down, grabbing on to the stamens of the flower.

Baby blue eyes are native to California and bloom throughout spring and summer, attracting bees and butterflies. They are drought tolerant but don't like extreme drought, so a little watering would be good to keep them blooming. They only grow up to 6 to 12 inches in height and look great when you let them cascade down from basket planters and barrels. I have them growing in large blue ceramic pots in partial shade.

Here is a wool carder bee anthidium fabricius flying to a dwarf indigo spire plant.

The name of these bees come from their unique nesting behavior. Females scrape or "card" the hairs off the surface of leaves of plants such as lamb's ears stachys and bundle them into a ball. They carry the ball to their nest and stuff it into the nest cavities to be used as material on which they lay their eggs.

I've only observed wool carder bees on the indigo spire salvia plants, and they seem to peacefully co-exist with other bees. Often there are honey bees and wool carder bees feeding on nectar simultaneously on the same plant.

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