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.
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.
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.
This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Yellow.’ See more responses here.
This is a good excuse to post more photos of bees foraging on bright yellow māmane flowers. Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) is endemic to Hawaii, but while its flowers attract many insects, the seeds are highly toxic. The endangered palila, one of the last endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers, is a bird that feeds mostly on the māmane’s immature seed pods without any ill effect.
I’ve posted about agave attenuata before, in January of last year (here). The plants are blooming again and, once again, the bees are all over them. This year I wanted to focus on the bees in flight, just before they settled on the flowers to forage. This resulted in a fair number of bees buzzing around my head, but I worry less about that than I used to. I took a lot of photos, most of which were free of bees, or featured bee blurs.
These were a couple of my favorites, each capturing a bee just before plunging into the bounty within.