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Royal Beauty Attracts Slumbering Bees

  • Rosanne Skirble

The Royal Iris attracts male bees to spend the night. (Credit: Yuval Sapir, Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden)

The Royal Iris attracts male bees to spend the night. (Credit: Yuval Sapir, Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden)

The Royal Iris is a species of wildflower native to the Middle East.

Yuval Sapir, director of the Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden, calls his laboratory the Temple of Iris.

“This is a group that evolved in the semi-arid zones…between the Mediterranean and the desert and adapted to the climate conditions,” Sapir said.

The Middle Eastern beauty, with colorful petals that range from dark purple to black and brown, is the largest flower in Israel.

They are rare and endangered, Sapir says, adding that “conserving the remaining populations can help protect other threatened species that live among them.”

Male bees like to spend the night nestled inside Royal Iris flowers.

“The dark color is attracting bees,” Sapir said. “Male bees that sleep in the flowers because the flowers are heated by the sunrise in the morning so they get more heat energy in the morning. So it is better to wake up from heated beds than the cold outside. They are also safe from the insects that eat them.”

Listen: Yuval Sapir explains why bees like to sleep in Royal Irises
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