The column of the cymbidium orchid resembles a primitive canoe, and it is designed to fit the pollinator lured to it by its deceptive enticements of color and fragrance promising nectar and pollen. The bright markings and the callus on the lip act as a landing strip for the visiting bee.
Often, when orchids are hybridized, they lose their attractiveness or at least the attention of their previous natural pollinators — they just don’t recognize the floral enticement.
However, I once owned an artificial hybrid, that was so unintentionally successful at its job, that shortly after each flower opened, permanent residence was taken up inside by a bumblebee. Whatever substance the flower was producing or device it was utilizing, it became the bee’s final destination. Once the bee crawled inside, she had no desire to leave. This would startle nursery customers sniffing or investigating the blooms, as they were not expecting each flower to come with its own little bee butt.
One year, I shook the bee out of the flower and onto the bench. She just looked groggy and uncertain as slowly she crawled back to activity. Then, bumbling back into a short flight, proceeded directly back into the throat of the same flower from which I had dislodged her.
We had a near freezing night, and, while the cymbidium flower fared fine, the bee was dead by morning, still head-in to the orchid’s throat.
The next flower opened, and soon had its own bee take up final residence, inspiring this poem.