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Did Bees Cause This Lily to Change Colors?

Bees are extraordinary creatures. They move from plant to plant transferring pollen, making sure that the species thrives.  They are so necessary in our gardens and it is a shame that their numbers are decreasing in part due to huge mega farming operations, loss of their habitats and pesticide use.

Parent lily before pollination

Change of Lily Colors – Bees or Genetics?

One of the Fans of the Gardening Cook on Facebook, Jennie Alaya, has shared two extraordinary photos showing the change of color that she believes the bees have had on the original parent lily.

This is her original lily, before bees mixed pollen from a near by stargazer lily into the parent plant.  Notice how the colors are subdued and very creamy overall.

The next photo shows the dramatic change.  It is the same lily but a new bulb and shows the flower that has changed color.  Look at the difference in color!

Lily after pollination by bees with stargazer pollen.

Jennie says that “streaks appeared in 4-5 of the flowers last year. This year, they are in nearly all of the offshoot bulbs from parent bulb. The peach bulbs were planted 6-7 yrs ago,  and the stargazers about 4-5 yrs ago. Bulb clumps (off parent plant) are full bulbs now, not bulblets, so the colors are very noticeable. The lilies are in 2 different gardens, about 20 ft apart.”

Was it the bees?  Perhaps, but there could be other reasons too.

For hybrid lilies to be created, a male and a female parent was needed.  It is possible that one parent was white and one purple and the bees did not make the change but the original parents did.

It is also possible that the purple lily probably was the stronger genetically and has slowly reverted the hybrid to it’s color.  The whole clump may be pink next year!

If the lily is not sterile and the bees pollinate the bloom, the bloom produces seeds that are not sterile.  These seeds can be released and be transferred.  Plants springing up nearby might be either color as well.

Whatever caused the  color change, there is no denying that it is dramatic.  Thanks so much for sharing the story Jennie!

Dramatic lily color change

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