How Blue Are Your Bonnets?




Have you noticed the bluebonnets in your yard are just a little bite bluer? No, your eyes are not deceiving you. There’s a bit of science behind the color changes of Texas’s State Flower.


Most people think of bluebonnets as we see them in the early spring, with tiny white spots that set off the rest of their brilliant azure hue. These white spots are located at the base of the banner petal and indicate that the flower is young. Insects like bumblebees and honeybees use this indication to identify which flowers have fresh pollen for them. Below the banner petal lie the flower’s “wings” and “keel.” Insects land on the keel and work into the wing petals to harvest the pollen, and then fly away with their stash and hopefully lose just enough on their flight home to ensure the repopulation of next year’s bluebonnets. Plus, the pollen serves as an excellent source of protein for bee larvae, meaning there will be enough Hill Country honey as well. It’s one of those beautiful symbiotic relationships in nature that fascinates children and adults alike.


So what happens if the flower is not so fresh or if a honeybee has already visited a single bluebonnet? In order to signal to the natural world that it may be time to look elsewhere, a bluebonnet’s white spots will turn either magenta or purple. Hence why towards later spring, if you are lucky enough to have bluebonnets still around they will probably be a bit richer in color than they were in March.


Most people have heard that the numbers of honeybees and bumblebees are mysteriously dropping. While this is a cause for alarm on several different levels, in Texas we also worry about what this could do for the bluebonnet population. These flowers cannot self-fertilize and depend on the bees to thrive. Plus there are other side effects: without enough bees to utilize the pollen it has to go somewhere. For many of us, that somewhere is the surface of our homes and windows.


Sticky, orange-yellow pollen can exacerbate allergies and is simply unsightly.  Whether it’s your home or business, it’s not doing anyone any good clinging to windows. So what can we do?


First it’s important to protect our pollinators, especially bees. Use pesticides sparingly and fill your gardens with other bee-friendly flowers along with your bluebonnets. Texas-friendly rosemary and great-smelling lavender not only attract bees, but they repel mosquitoes… a double win!


Second, you can get rid of that excess pollen on your windows with a professional window cleaning service that uses environmentally safe methods that won’t endanger your plants or the insects that take care of them. At Gwyndows of Austin we offer a great service that is locally owned and trusted by businesses and families alike. If you think your home or business needs safe, effective window cleaning, contact us for a quote today.