Fresh out of the bud, the anthers of this new passion flower are bright with sticky, yellow pollen and the three stigmas are still tightly curled. One of the anthers is already starting to turn down, revealing the smooth, green reverse. The front face of the anther needs to be facing downwards before pollinators arrive, to make sure the pollen is brushed off onto the head of the hummingbird or the back of the bee. The appearance of the flower changes notably in an hour, but the movement is just too slow to be visible, unless you’re very patient.
No chance of a hummingbird here in central Paris, but bees are around more now the days are warmer. Apparently (in the absence of hummingbirds) carpenter bees are the best pollinators for passion flowers but a honey bee is a much more likely visitor here. There are over 300 hives of bees registered in the city, many installed on rooftops. City regulations specify that bee hives must not be placed within 25 meters of a school or hospital and that hives must be screened with a protective fence or hedge at least 2 metres high, except where the hive itself is installed more than two metres above ground level.
Since 2013 there has been a hive tucked away between the slopes of the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, less than a mile from our terrace as the bee flies, so the nectar from this flower may be added to some rather special honey.
There are some great pictures on the Notre-Dame de Paris website of the beekeeper at work on the roof of the cathedral. The website can also tell you more about the patron saint of bees and the thoughts of Saint Jean Chrysostome on the bee as a symbol of working for the common good. Where it comes to ecology the good people of Notre-Dame are on slightly shaky ground with the assertion that ‘the presence of bees is a sign of the good health of our environment’. The presence of a varied population of wild bees is certainly an indicator of a healthy habitat. The presence of domesticated honey bees is the sign that there’s a bee hive nearby.