Bumblebees crowd into squash flowers

Our Seminole squash vines have dozens of flowers, each of which is stuffed full of bumblebees (or, as Darwin called them, humble bees).

Seminole squash flower

The bees cram their heads under the central column (the pistil that gathers pollen from incoming bees), lapping at the nectar that oozes below. Occasionally a bee will break away and fly to another flower, but mostly they keep their heads buried in the flower, moving only to push themselves deeper into the nectar.

Seminole squash flower with bumblebees

The photographs above are of female flowers. Interestingly, the male flowers are a little smaller and, although they attract bumblebees, they don’t seem to elicit from the bees the same adoration and abundance.

Male Seminole squash flower

According to RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions), this variety of squash is one of America’s ten most endangered native foods. This breed of squash was originally cultivated by Native Americans in and around the Everglades by girdling trees and letting the vines grow up the dead limbs. This gave the plant its other common name, “hanging pumpkin,” for the arboreal fruits. We’ve grown this variety for two years now. Its vines and leaves are enormous and they tend to smother all other plants in their path as they grow outward. They are phenomenally productive and seem to have no problems with disease. And, evidently, the bumblebees love them.

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