Beauty, mystery and deceit—the Smithsonian's collection of nearly 8,000 live orchids has it all
Male euglossine bees collect fragrances from flowers. “The males with the most complex array of fragrances get all the ladies,” says Mirenda. But when the bees land on male Catasetum orchids, they also get a swift wallop on the head. “The flowers basically mug their pollinator by shooting really large pollinia at them when they touch a little trigger switch in the flower,” says Mirenda.
After being whacked, as a reaction, the bees retreat to shelter—in this case, to the Catasetum’s female flowers (above). The helmet-like flowers, found in Central America, actually resemble the nests that the bees build. There, while feeding on nectar, the bees deposit the pollen.
Have you ever wondered how a simple shot can keep you from dying a horrible death? In this one-minute video, Ask Smithsonian’s host, Eric Schulze, unravels how vaccines boot-camp our bodies into shape, getting us ready to fight off deadly diseases
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The Smithsonian is a repository of America's history, achievements, aspirations, and identity. It holds the artifacts of great leaders, and those of ordinary Americans. It houses scientific specimens and technological wonders. It is home to art, music, films, writings-a vast treasure trove of objects of extraordinary beauty and outstanding design.