Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zucchini Flower with Native Bee

Here are the first of my zucchinis - I'll probably pick the larger one in the next day or so.

When leaning in to take a photo looking into an open squash blossom, I found it was occupied. This looks like something other than a honeybee; native bees can also be very useful pollinators. In doing a little research just now, I learned from the U.S. Forest Service's Celebrating Wildflowers website that there is in fact a specialist bee for squash: "native solitary bees of two genera, Peponapis and Xenoglossa, the so-called 'squash bees." From the photos shown there, it looks rather likely that the bee inside my squash flower is indeed a squash bee.
Squash bees have been shown to be excellent pollinators of zucchini and butternut squashes, among others. If numerous, they thoroughly pollinate all available flowers, rendering later visits of honeybees superfluous. Before Europeans brought honeybees to the New World, squash bees were busy aiding the adoption, domestication, spread, and production of squashes and gourds by indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. [quote is from the USFS site linked above]

Here's a crop of the same photo that shows the fuzzy texture inside the flower and gives a better look at the creature within. Click on the photo for even more detail.
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Jim H. said...

According to an article in the latest issue of La Cicina Italiana, these zuch blossoms are edible.

Jim H. said...

that should be "cucina."

Penelope said...

I've heard that! I think people deep-fry them. I haven't tried it, however.