Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I have three things I want to talk about today, only one of which is illustrated. The first one is tall things in the desert. You can tell what pollinates a plant by how high it is off the ground. The examples above, all from our yard, are a saguaro cactus, a yucca blossom , and agave blossoms. They are all way high off the ground, and they are all pollinated primarily by bats, though I believe bees also work on the yucca, and birds on the saguaros.

Next, I want to talk about the pre-monsoon, which is here now, and which is the worst time of year. It's very hot (this year, rather unusually, around 110 or more every day), and a bit humid, enough to make you uncomfortable but not enough to do the plants any good. It's the meteorological equivalent of PMS.

Finally, bees. More specifically, bee behavior. My little bird pond in my garden attracts a lot of bees this time of year, and by "a lot" I mean dozens--though probably not hundreds. They congregate on the algae in one corner all day long. In the morning, when I water, they are very active and easily agitated. if I stir them up by getting water on them, they lift up and fly around irritably.

Now, these are almost certainly Africanized bees, also known as "killer" bees, because they can mass and sting large animals, including humans, to death. (Every year now a few people in Southern Arizona are killed by them.) But I'm not afraid of them, because I'm pretty sure they only attack when they are defending their nest, and their nest is somewhere to the northwest of here. How do I know? Because after soaking for a while, each bee flies off in that direction. I believe they are acting as apian cooler pads, saturating their bodies and taking the moisture back to the hive, where they and others will beat their wings to cool it off.

1 comment:

  1. SecretMargo4:23 PM

    Oooh! Africanized bees! I remember when the news was filled a few years ago with incessant warnings about them washing over the entire country like an anaphylactic tsunami and transforming us into a country of lazy, "Africanized" coma patients! It's interesting to hear them being discussed so matter-of-factly, as just another feature of everyday life. Just like any other immigrant population, really.

    BTW: I like the new template. Did you get it from Maughta?