Monkey Bees-ness

Rockrose & Bee

I'm back from 3 weeks in Israel, where there were all kinds of bees... There were ones that humbly collected pollen and nectar of cistus (see photo above) and were busy building combs and making honey; but also there were some perverted ones that strayed from their task for a pseudocopulation with deceiving plants...

Growing up in Clil, there were a couple of spots near our home were year after year we'll go looking for the "Large Bee Orchid" (Devoranit Gedola). They were rare, and like most bulbeous plants, re-bloom each year in the same location and don't spread out nearly as easily as other wild flowers.

Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid)

This year, I was fortunate to spot the rare bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) quite late into spring and in an area I've never knew was a habitat for this strange plant. The area where they were growing had a mind boggling abundance of them (relatively speaking, of course...) and me and my brother Yotam spotted 2 hybrids of them - Large Bee Orchid (which looks like bumblebee) and Velvet Bee Orchid (the brown one, which looks like a wild bee).

Wild Bee Orchid

These sneaky orchids, in addition to dressing up as a wild Mediterranean bees, have developed an anatomy that will embarrass the manufacturers of blow-up-dolls. Furthermore, it even releases virgin bee pheromones (!) to make the male bee mad to the point of having sex with them...
This act of deception is called pseudocopulation. I haven't noticed
any smell around these orchids, so I'm guessing it's one of those scentless pheromones... This natural phenomenon, nevertheless, got me thinking quite a bit about the intelligence of plants - they must know more than they show!

These orchids are the only plants I'm aware of having such a developed sexual scheme. I'm curious to hear if you've ever seen them in real life (preferably in the wild) or if you know of any other plants that have such strange sexual habits.

Post a comment and enter to win a decant of Sous la Vent.

Sous la Vent Winner

Congratulations to Portia x - winner of our Monkey Monday giveaway from last week.
You won a 5ml decant of the Guerlain boutique exclusive Sous la Vent - from my own collection. Please don't forget to email me your address so I can send your prize!
Sweet dreams :-)

Monkey Monday: Smell No Evil?

smell no Evil? by Polokampo
smell no Evil?, a photo by Polokampo on Flickr.

Although my federal-government lawyer friend is yet to forward me the Canadian federal government's policy on fragrance in the workplace -- I figured I'll dedicate today's post to workplace policies on wearing fragrances. A touchy subject, no doubt. So let's spill the beans on the current state of affairs in your own workplace. Are you allowed to wear fragrance? Are there any rules? Have you ever broken them (and have anyone actually noticed)?

I'm happy to share with you that I'm not allowed to wear any perfume whatsoever to work, in order to keep my nose unprejudiced, and my skin free and willing to absorb whatever I might need to test on myself on any given day... Haha. I know this is cheating. But you should know that being a perfumer is not all roses. Sometime it's also jasmines... Sorry! Couldn't help it!
But seriously - sometimes we can't just wear whatever we feel like in the morning. Which is not always easy, because I'm no skinny chef - I like to actually wear perfume for my own enjoyment...

Oh, and the giveaway for today: A 5ml decant of Sous la Vent (Guerlain) from my very own perfumista collection, snatched at their flagship boutique on Champs Elysees.

My First Day in Paris

I arrived in Paris late on a gray morning and on the way from the airport was able to view the many chestnuts in blossom while experiencing some Parisian morning traffic jams. The apartment I’m staying is close to everything (walking distance from the Champs Elysees for one thing) is quite old and has very steep swirling staircase leading to it. There I met my boyfriend and his sister and we spent the entire day together.

After spending a couple of hours recovering from the longish trip and its various side effects (via Montreal – over all about 11-12 hours flight), which included eating fresh strawberries from the market and some baguette and trying to taste a ripened cheese with a sharp taste of cooked cauliflower, we left the apartment for the first little tour of Paris on the Champs Elysees. Our first stop was Sephora, a very short stop that is because the entrance was infested by what I could only describe as petroleum fumes. I had to leave before getting an idea of what’s in the store, but I did notice it was gigantic – almost like an entire mall of perfume and makeup! – and that there is some lighter version of KenzoAmour already out in France, that comes in a beautiful white bottle with gradually transparent edges. I left as soon as possible and immediately spotted Guerlain, which is almost the next door neighbour but decided to cross the street and have some tea at Laduree so I can recover some of my strength before the strenuous mental activity of perfume sniffing…

Laduree had the nicest muted turquoise-green entrance in a somewhat art-deco style with a butterly motif and purple accents. We sat at the bar at the back and had some of Laduree’s house-blend tea (very fragrant with roses and violets I suspect), and accompanied by some of their newest macaroons – mango & jasmine, muguet, bergamot and the violet-cassis ones. The mango and jasmine was mostly mango, with the slightest hint of jasmine and quite delicious with an almost jelly-like texture of the mango filling; the muguet tasted primarily of almonds, the bergamot was intense and impressive and the violet-cassis was a heavenly balance of floral sweetness and tart red fruits.
On the way to Laduree we spotted an Arabian Oud boutique and now was a good time to check it out. I smelled 5 types of oudh – two Indian and 3 Cambodian ouds, ranging from light and woody to smoky and animalic. My favourite was one mild Indian oudh and also another more smoky Cambodian oud. This is the first place I’ve seen that actually sells real oud as well as the oud wood chips. The shop owner was kind and knowledgeable and even let me take picture of him and the shop.

We than crossed the street and went over to Guerlain, where the walls of two story shop are stacked with shelves of perfume and eaux de cologne vats ranging from 500ml to 1 and 2 litres. On the second floor is where the exclusive perfumes reside – including Sous la Vent, which I had planned to impulsively buy on this trip and wear it in my 5 days in Paris so it would be how I remember the trip by. .. I tried it at Montreal once and was immediately smitten… I also smelled a few other perfumes there: Vetiver pour Elle, which I had hard time not buying on the spot as well (and my boyfriend loved too – he seems to be really into the vetivers I like – i.e. Sycamore and Vetiver Tonka and always comments on them). He was also smitten with white florals and I think Cruel Gardenia was his favourite. But than he’s also smitten with my gardenia plant that blooms in the middle of my living room…! I love the dry gin beginning of Sous la Vent. It is quite herbaceous and dry with only very little florals and gradually warms up into a chypre base with only the slightest hint of tonka bean. This is how I'm going to smell in the next few days...

By now it was time for dinner and we wanted to check out l’Atlas – a Morrocan restaurant at St. Germain. Unfortunately, 5pm was too early for them to be open and we had to find something else. Of course we knocked into another parfumerie on the way – Diptyque – and I got a chance to check out all the candles I was curious about (Flouve, Figue Vert, etc.) and their new eaux. I was particularly taken with the freesia soap though above all things.

We went on and had some cheese fondue in a little side street and got scratched by a friendly yet aggressive resident cat and than went home all the way through Notre-Dame and along the Sienne, going through the Louvre and Jardin de Tuilleries and than all along the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triumph.
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