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Winter aconite attracts pollinators

Winter aconite, a tuber-producing plant in the buttercup family, is cherished by pollinators because it is one of the first flowers of spring. It will often pop through the snow ahead of the crocus and the cheery yellow blooms are a welcome addition to the dormant landscape.

Native to Europe and Asia, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) has become well established throughout North America. It is thought to provide both pollen and nectar to bees and other pollinators.

This morning, Miriam Valare of Salt Lake City found a variety of insect visitors on her winter aconite. Below you can see a honey bee, a drone fly (Eristalis tenax), and a small ground-dwelling bee that I believe is an Andrena.

The drone fly—a type of hover fly—is often mistaken for a honey bee by humans and probably predators as well. Clues that this is a fly and not a bee include relatively hairless legs, short stubby antennae, one pair of wings instead of two, and abdominal stripes that don’t go all the way across. Also, the drone fly can hover, something honey bees can’t do.

Thanks for the photos, Miriam. Nice work!

Honey-bee-on-aconite-Miriam-Valere
Honey bee on winter aconite. © Miriam Valere.
Drone-fly-on-Aconite-Miriam-Valere
Drone fly on winter aconite. © Miriam Valere.
Andrena-on-Aconite-Miriam-Valere
Andrena on winter aconite. © Miriam Valere.

Comments

Miriam Valere
Reply

Thanks Rusty!! It was fun finding THREE different insects at the same time. Thanks for identifying the little bee for me. 🙂

Carrie
Reply

Thank you for the identification! I am getting my bees this weekend and have been really trying to pay attention to what is working my fruit trees. I’ll bookmark this for future use.

We have some seriously large bumblebees flying around!

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