Shakin’ things up- Bees n’ Butterfies

When it comes to biotic pollination the bee is king (or queen) as the species would have it.  They are undisputedly the most prolific for sharing pollen amongst their peers which include birds, moths, wasps, and yes, butterflies. When working in the garden I really noticed first hand how my plants would shake along with the intense buzzing sound coming from the bumblebees.  There is a reason for this.  Bombus (unlike Apis, honey bees), contort their thorax to enable them to gather more pollen from the plant as it sticks to the surface of their bodies and then is released onto the next flower they visit.  The honey bee does not have this capability but still manages to get the job done. This process is called Buzz Pollination.

Butterflies pollinate also as they artfully flit about, using their feet to taste for suitable plants on which to lay their eggs.  Butterflies can see the colour red, which other pollinators cannot differentiate and are attracted to warm coloured plants in yellows, oranges and reds.  They need a large leaf and prefer clustered blossoms upon which to perch.  They gather nectar with their long tongues and deposit pollen as they walk about the plant.  When they find one that is suitable and the time is right they will deposit their eggs on the underside of the leaf to give their caterpillars an immediate source of sustenance. Ever notice how many butterflies you see in a meadow or other native space?  That is because they prefer native flowers, although my garden is a testament that they have cousins who prefer the urban lifestyle.

To attract bees to your zone 2 garden plant borage, catmint, hyssop, chives, lavender, mint and lemon balm.  You will get to enjoy these also!  Currently I find my Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ a welcoming host while there are not a lot of other things blooming.  Butterflies are partial to asters, sedums, lantana, marigolds, lupins and monarda.  They also gravitate to aspen, birch, cherry, oak, and willow trees. Why is it important to help and encourage our pollinating friends?  Over 90% of plants require a pollinator to propagate.  Enough said…….


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Avid student of horticulture, active volunteer with the Horticultural Society, maker of beautiful garden spaces. I am now available for Garden Design services, custom planters, DIY consultations in Calgary and surrounding areas. Inquire at 403-837-9980 or

2 thoughts on “Shakin’ things up- Bees n’ Butterfies”

  1. Thanks Jan! Back into the corporate world this week but planning to keep on going with the blog. I am humbled and gratified that you find enjoyment from reading it. Thanks for the encouragement, it really makes the effort worthwhile. 🙂

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