Whilst recently photographing Broad-leaved Helleborine in Kent, I noticed the following that I would welcome cooment on:
1. flowers were being pollinated by Bees as well as Wasps - is this usual?
2. many of the Wasps had pollinia (?) attached to their heads, again, is this usual?
3. lastly, I found a number of dead Wasps with pollinia attached to their heads and wondered why this would be?
Please see photos attached
I don't know what species you photographed, but yes, wasps pollinate too.
You could try to ID the wasps by comparing your photos or your memories (photos are a bit blurry) with those on this page: http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=species_gallery
Or you could try to post the images on iSpot: http://www.ispotnature.org/
Thanks for your reply but I'm not trying to ID the Wasps. My point 1. above, relates to the fact that the literature states Broad-leaved Helliborines are pollinated by Wasps only - but we saw them being pollinated by Bees as well. I am aware both are Orchid pollinators however, as each Orchid has its own set of pollinators and the literature states B-l H are pollinated by Wasps (not Bees), my observations of the Bees pollinating B-l H are therefore either an unusual occurrence or the literature is misleading.
Point 2. above, relates to the fact many of the Wasps I saw pollinating the B-l H - regardless of which particular species of Wasp they were - had pollinia stuck to their heads. Normal, or over-zealous pollinating?
Point 3. above, relates to the fact that many of these Wasps with pollinia attached to their heads were dead, apparently suffocated by the pollinia. Again, normal or unusual?
Sorry I couldn't help more. If you could find an expert (obviously not on this forum!) she may tell you more.
I can only answer point 3. It would be extraordinary for a wasp to suffocate with pollinia. Insects breathe through spiracles, and wasps have them on the abdomen. They don't have lungs opening in nostrils on head, like us.
You said you had taken these photos "recently". I think most wasps die off in the autumn, or at least the workers of the common wasp do, leaving only the queens to hibernate over the winter. Could it be that the dead wasps had simply reached the end of their natural life span and happened to die after their last meal of nectar?
Or if it was more recently than that, perhaps they died of cold or disease?