Tag Archives: Bees and Wasps

Maiapilo

Maiapilo flowers in Hawaii
Maiapilo flowers in Hawaii
A bee forages on a Maiapilo flower in Hawaii

Maiapilo (Capparis sandwichiana) is an endemic plant that requires little water once established and is also salt tolerant. This means it grows well on the dry side of the island along the coast. This of course is also an area popular with humans, both for living and recreation. Consequently, maiapilo is considered an at risk plant.

Its standout feature is the beautiful white flowers, but if you want to see them, bring a flashlight or be prepared to get up early. Maiapilo blooms at night and begins to wilt early in the morning, fading to pink as it does so.

These photos were taken around nine in the morning and the bees were busy exploring and pollinating the flowers. At night though, native moths are the main pollinators, attracted by the white flowers and pleasant lemon scent. A cucumber-like fruit follows the flowers but, unlike them, it is said to have a very pungent smell.

The plant can be low-growing and sprawling, or a more upright shrub reaching 10 feet.

Bees collecting water

Bees collect water from the edge of a pool
A bee collects water from the edge of a pool

I was taking photos of dragonflies over a pool when I realized there was a good deal of buzzing around where I stood. Looking around, I saw a fair number of bees collecting water from the edge of the pool. Luckily, I wasn’t bothering them and they didn’t bother me. I took a few photos and then returned to the futile practice of photographing dragonflies in motion.

Sonoran carpenter bee

Sonoran carpenter bees are big. They’re the kind that, when I see one, I automatically flinch because I don’t want it to bump in to me and have it leave a bruise. Truth is, they’re pretty docile. This one is a female and has a stinger, but will only use it if provoked. Males are brown and somewhat smaller and don’t have a stinger at all.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Bees on a mock orange

The mock orange next to the house has bloomed again. It does this several times a year, sometimes just parts of it, sometimes all of it. This latest bloom was the whole tree and when that happens the bees come out in force. Step outside, and a low hum fills the air as well as an intense aroma.

I take lots of photos, trying to capture something of interest to me, such as a bee approaching a flower (top), helicoptering in to land (middle), and getting stuck in (bottom). In the bottom photo, I was struck by the flat underside of the bee, not something I’d noticed before.

Bee on a ribwort plantain

When I saw this bee I thought, I know that plant, but what’s the name of it? Well, it’s ribwort plantain, but my knowledge of it stems from many years ago when, as kids, we used to pick them, loop the stem around just below the head of the plant, and then jerk that loop forward to send the head of the plant zinging in the direction of the intended victim. It was amazing how far those heads would travel.

This bee is using the plant for more beneficial purposes.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Pinkhead smartweed

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘The Color Pink.’ See more responses here.

Pinkhead smartweed (Polygonum capitatum or Persicaria capitata) is a groundcover that hails from western China and the Himalayas. It’s variously known as pinkhead knotweed, pink knotweed, Japanese knotweed, pink-headed persicaria, or pink bubble persicaria. I use pinkhead smartweed for the very good reason that I like the name. It sounds like the name of someone pretentious, but slightly seedy, from the alleged upper crust of society.

In this bounty of names, a couple of elements stand out. One is ‘pink,’ the other is ‘weed.’ This is a very pink plant and, in Hawaii and elsewhere, an invasive weed. Drive eastbound over Saddle Road (officially Hawaii Route 200, the Daniel K. Inouye Highway) and, once you cross the saddle and begin your descent, this plant will become obvious very quickly. It lines the road on both sides for several miles with very little in the way of other plants competing for that space. This is because pinkhead smartweed will grow in poor ground and lava fields fit that description.

This is also a stretch of highway that, relatively recently, was converted from a narrow, winding road, that rental car companies routinely forbid their clients from driving on, to a wide, smooth thoroughfare, the only place on the island where you can legally go 60 mph, and where you can expect to receive a ticket if you go 80 mph like everybody else.

Redoing the road left verges of rock and gravel and very little else. Pinkhead smartweed was quick to move in and colonize this unpromising territory so that now the descent toward Hilo begins with pleasing pink borders.

The top photo shows the rugged kind of ground pinkhead smartweed can grow in. To the right, bees appreciate the flowers of this plant growing at an elevation over 5,000 feet. Below, the collapse of a lava tube has left a shady hole where pinkhead smartweed, an endemic amaumau fern, and an ohia tree have established a good foothold.