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.
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:
We all know that pollination takes place when a bee carries pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another. Close observation reveals that the pollen clings to the sticky hairs on the bee’s body and is rubbed off as the bee flies from one blossom to another. The flowers in this and other photographs are Cosmos.
In addition to pollinating plants, bees collect pollen to take to their hives for food. The large orange-yellow bulges on the hind legs of this bee looks as though it is carrying baskets for this purpose – much as we would use a shopping basket.
These baskets or pollen sacs are known as the corbicula, which are made up of hairs blended together to form a concave shape. Once a bee has visited a flower it begins a grooming process during which the pollen that has gathered on the body is brushed down towards the hind legs and packed into the pollen baskets mixed with a little nectar.
The Aloe ferox in our front garden is attracting a number of bees this season.
When we describe someone as being the bee’s knees we are paying them a compliment because this phrase means of ‘excellent quality’. Some sources point to the origin relating to the pollen collected by bees as they flit from flower to flower – and we all know the end result will be honey, which is good.
So, someone who is admired for having certain qualities or for having achieved something significant may be referred to as the bee’s knees. This is the meaning that has been in use since the 1920s.
Funnily enough, when the bee’s knees was first recorded in the late 18th century, it meant ‘something very small and insignificant’. Well, bees may be small but we have all been made aware of how very significant they are in our lives!
NOTE: Click on a photograph of you wish to see a larger view.