Nature Proves Itself Outrageously Subtle; Human Comprehension Lags Behind


Yesterday, I was struggling to photograph my species tulips and thinking how fussy they are about when they open and when they don't.

And then I ran across this utterly amazing New York Times "Wild Side" blog post by Leon Kreitzman about the circadian rhythms of flowers and the way bees structure their days around them.  Wow, Leon.  You have definitely sold at least one copy of your upcoming book, Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive

But really, wow, flowers.  Wow, bees.


  1. Amazing how interconnected it all is, huh? And how little we know about all of that unless we take the time to read up on it! I’m putting that book on my list, too.

  2. As I read this article I felt dumbfounded by my own lack of observation. For instance, I have a melaleuca linarifolia tree that blooms in mid- to late April each year. It attracts hordes of insects which I have happily observed. But it never, ever occurred to me to really notice if the bees or other insects visited at particular time(s) of the day. I vow to shake off my human-centric blindness and find out the ways of the melaleuca (for starters). Oh, and I’ll be reading that book, too.

  3. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet, I.5)

    The Bard is applicable here, me thinks.

  4. Great article, except for one small fact: honeybees are not native to the US, and many of the plants mentioned in terms of the “flower clock” are European also.

    So claiming “pollinators (which in most cases means the honeybee)” is not quite applicable in a strict sense. It would be interesting to know whether honeybees are really adapted to pollinating a mix of natives and exotics (marigolds and catmint, for example) on a timetable.

    Here in the States there are far many more native bees actively pollinating plants, and some inclusion of them in this article would have been a lot more interesting.

    I note the ‘erratum’ in which the first photo used for the article identified a bumblebee as a honeybee.

  5. Interesting post, article, and comments. Here I always thought it was heat and light that made my tulips open and close. It would be interesting to know how bee time schedules are affected by our melange of native and escaped (or planted) European flowers.


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