Kniphofia or 'red hot pokers' provide a really bright and dramatic splash of colour in mid-summer and provide nectar for bumblebees, one row of petals at a time, over about 6 weeks.
If you look closely at one of the flowering spikes you can see that it is made up of hundreds of small individual tubular flowers. The scruffy lower sections are the flowers that have already been pollinated and are fading, and the brighter coloured, 'fingers' towards the top are the buds that have not yet opened. In between these two sections there is a single row of flowers that is open today and this is where to see the bees working.
Long-tonged bumblebees will be able to reach up inside the flowers but the shorter tongued ones seem to press their faces between the flowers and make a small hole in the petals to get at the nectar.
In this picture you see a buff-tailed bee squeezing in between the flowers to get break into the base of a flower that will not open until tomorrow; cheeky and clever.
This year we are stocking a classic red-yellow poker