“Press your little finger on the spot. You see. The flower yawns immediately, the secret lock works. And you think the bumble-bee does not know these things? Watch it in the garden and you will see how it can read the signs of the flowers. When it visits a snap-dragon, it always alights on the yellow spot and nowhere else. The door opens, it enters. It twists and turns in the corolla and covers itself with pollen, with which it daubs the stigma. Having drunk the drop, it goes off to other flowers, forcing the opening of which it knows the secret thoroughly.
“All closed flowers have, like the snap-dragon, a conspicuous point, a spot of bright color, a sign that shows the insect the entrance to the corolla and says to it: Here it is. Finally, insects whose trade it is to visit flowers and make the pollen fall from the stamens on to the stigma, have a wonderful knowledge of the significance of this spot. It is on it they use their strength to make the flower open.
“Let us recapitulate. Insects are necessary to flowers to bring pollen to the stigmas. A drop of nectar, distilled on purpose for this, attracts them to the bottom of the corolla; a bright spot shows them the road to follow. Either I am a triple idiot or we have here an admirable chain of facts. Later, my children, you will find only too many people saying: This world is the product of chance, no intelligence rules it, no Providence guides it. To those people, my friends, show the snap-dragon’s yellow spot. If, less clear-sighted than the burly bumble-bee, they do not understand it, pity them: they have diseased brains.”
– Jean Henri Fabre, The Storybook of Science
Interestingly, neither of the bees in my photos are bumble bees. One is a honey bee, the other, a carpenter bee. I couldn’t resist these shots, though. My Chaste Trees are busy with a surprising amount of bees right now. Because of the drought, many yards have long lost their flowers – so we have more than our fair share of insects. My husband loves his trees and treats them like pets; therefore, the bees love my house. One got inside the other night and I caught it in a jar and set it free in the back yard.
The Storybook of Science is a wonderful book that makes a handy nature-study companion and nature journal resource. We hope to be able to purchase this book for our home library this year. I’m looking so forward to the cooler weather and much nature study with the children!