black bee, yellow bee,
orange butterfly and white --
sipping coneflower nectar
On one small patch of yellow coneflowers, I spot two kinds of bees and butterflies. Naturally, I recognize the yellow striped honey bee, the kind my friend keeps in square white hives, but the black bee is a bit of a mystery.
A little research reveals that the mystery bee is also a honey bee (Apis melifera), but the European dark bee, also called the German black bee, is a different subspecies from the Common or Western honey bee. The dark bee was actually the first honey bee brought to the Americas by Europeans in the early 1600s.
In addition to the two kinds of honey bees, the yellow coneflowers (Echinacea paradoxa) are being visited by two kinds of butterflies, a tawny one with dark spots along the edge of its wings and a white one with an orange streak on its lower wing edge. The coneflowers, with their drooping golden petals and spiky crown, are obviously a favorite of both bees and butterflies. Both types of insects are able to probe deeply with their long proboscis into the spiky tubes that make up the flower's central disk in order to sip the hidden nectar.