The Confederate rose brings spectacular beauty to yards across Georgia. However, my wife, Donna, and I have found that its showy blossoms are also used as places for bumblebees to escape the cold on chilly autumn nights.
This large multi-stemmed shrub or small tree was brought to North America in the 1600s. Since then it has been widely planted throughout the Southeast. It popularity stems from the fact that, from late summer until frost, it bears scores of white blossoms that measure up to six inches in diameter. These flowers eventually turn light pink before finally becoming rose-colored.
While my wife and I thoroughly enjoy the beauty the flowers bring to our yard, our discovery that these stunning blooms provide bumblebees with warm refuges on chilly fall nights has heightened our appreciation for the plant.
For quite some time, I had not given any thought to this interesting behavior until late one afternoon this past week. Late one afternoon I noticed that my wife, was looking deep into the one of the blossoms adorning a Confederate rose growing alongside our driveway. I walked up to find out what had caught her attention. When she said she was looking at a bumblebee that had settled in for the night deep inside a Confederate rose bloom, I peered down into the throat of the flower and spotted the insect. As we stood nearby discussing her find, a couple of other bumblebees flew into other blossoms.
When I returned to the flowers well after dark, sure enough, the bumblebees were still there awaiting morning when temperatures warmed to the point where they could utilize the muscles that control their wings and fly away.
A number of animals seek cover on chilly nights. Many birds and mammals retreat to natural cavities, nesting boxes, thick vegetation, and other places. However, I doubt that many spend cold nights nestled in cover as beautiful a Confederate rose blossom.
If you have a Confederate rose growing in your yard, before the blossoms nipped by a frost, as the sun is setting check them out. If bumblebees are still flying about in your neck of the woods, chances are one or more might be using some of gorgeous blooms for nighttime cover also.