BIRD BATHS AND BEES

Just as people, birds and animals seek water to drink when the weather is hot and dry, so do bees. The water in this shallow bird bath at the entrance to the Mountain Zebra National Park is edged with bees and flies taking in much-needed moisture.

Communal taps inevitably drip. Some taps in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park have simple cement bird baths placed under them which both helps to save water and provides for the thirst of bees – lots of them. One actually has to approach these taps with care.

Birds and animals have to approach these watering points with care too.

I was thus impressed to see that in the Karoo National Park not only are bird baths provided under the communal taps, but clear signs warn one to be careful of the bees that will inevitably come to share the water during the hot weather.

Or … perhaps these signs sensitize visitors to the importance of bees and the role they play in keeping our environment healthy.

Either way, it was good to see them.

NOT SO MANY BEES

While there have been many flowers blooming after the good rains in December and a few reasonable showers in January, there have been surprisingly few butterflies and honey bees about. This lone bee was making a study of a door:

A couple of bees have got trapped behind the curtains indoors on hot days, their buzzing sound alerting me to open the windows to let them out, but very few are around outdoors. I was thus delighted to find this one:

Where are the bees?

JUNE GARDEN 2021

All is not doom and gloom in our drought-stricken garden for we have been blessed with several aloes blooming, of which this is one:

Then there are the lovely blooms of the Crassula ovata or, as many overseas readers know it, the Jade plant:

Both of these indigenous plants provide important sustenance for bees, butterflies, ants and other insects. I also have a minute patch of ground close to where I sit in the mornings in which I nurture petunias and pansies. These cannot be watered very often so are doing their best under trying circumstances to provide daily cheer:

They too attract an insect or two:

FEBRUARY 2021 GARDEN

The drought continues. In fact, yesterday morning we woke to not a single drop of water in our taps! So far the rain forecast either comes to nothing or it might yield 5mm – that does little more than settle the dust for a little while. This is the second summer in a row that I have not been able to grow vegetables or much in the way of flowers. Yet, there continues to be some colour and things of interest in our garden. The ever faithful frangipani (also known as Plumeria) is blooming beautifully and exudes the most delightful scent once the sun sets and the garden settles down for the night.

No matter how hot and dry it gets, we can always rely on the Plumbago to provide colour – and such pleasing colour too.

The hibiscus shrubs were already mature when we moved here three decades ago. Their long-lasting blooms too never disappoint.

I am very pleased that the variety of petunias I planted in containers in December continue to provide happy splashes of colour.

Then there are insects, such as this bee foraging on the tiny flowers of a tall weed.

I come across a spider-hunting wasp (Pompilidae) outside the kitchen door.

It is under the lip of an outside windowsill that I see a potential danger lurking in the form of two South African Paper Wasps in the throes of building their intricate nest.

End note: The water supply is trickling back in our pipes.

MORE BEES

It is Lockdown Day 34: this means that it is over a month since we have been able to go outside of our gardens (thankfully I have a garden!) and go for a walk. During the course of the month the cheering array of cosmos flowers dancing in the breezes have dwindled to the last few; the tall stems have fallen over; and soon there will be none left. The last few continue to be visited by bees and so I show you one of the last ‘action’ cosmos and its visitor: