Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘bee

Bumblebee on blazing-star

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At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 11th I managed to get one picture of a bumblebee on some flowering Liatris punctata var. mucronata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. Maybe the bee is Bombus pensylvanicus. I’m no great shakes at identifying insect species, but at least I know how to spell Pennsylvania. (I can do Mississippi and Massachusetts, too. Woo hoo!).

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I recommend three articles documenting the scourge of illiberalism that’s unfortunately been proliferating in the United States and other places.

1) “The New Puritans,” by Ann Applebaum, about the very real harms that cancel culture inflicts, from The Atlantic in August 2021.

2) “Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom,” by linguistics professor John McWhorter, also in The Atlantic, from September 2020.

3) “How Critical Social Justice ideology fuels antisemitism,” by David Bernstein of The Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, from September 3, 2021.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Tiny bee on a rain-lily

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On August 20th at the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden in Lampasas
I found this tiny bee on a rain-lily, Zephyranthes chlorosolen.



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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is making like it’s the Centers for Language Control. Yup, that branch of the American government earns the George Orwell Newspeak Award for its latest pronouncements in the world of reality spinning or outright denial. Here are some lowlights.

You shouldn’t say “genetically male” or “genetically female” but rather “assigned” or “designated” “male/female at birth.” This supposedly scientific branch of the government is okay with canceling the science of genetics.

The CDC is big on converting a simple word into a string of words. “Smokers” should be “people who smoke.” Was anyone so in danger of assuming that smokers might include squirrels or vultures that we need to specify that smokers are actually people? Similarly “the uninsured” should be “people who are uninsured,” which thankfully rules out bumblebees, potatoes, and walruses. “Koreans” should be “Korean persons,” I guess so that we don’t mistakenly include any of the Koreans’ pets.

“The homeless” should be “people experiencing homelessness.” Though not in the list, “the clueless” should presumably be called “people experiencing cluelessness.” Actually it’s shorter to replace that with “the CDC.”

But brevity is clearly not the goal in the new suggestions. Anti-brevity is, and therefore the CDC has done at best a middling job. Think about all the missed opportunities for expansionism. “White” could have been “people characterized by having a low melanistic pigmentation and therefore capable of being noticed in dark rooms more easily than people belonging to certain other ethnoracial groups with greater melanistic pigmentation.”

Some of the CDC’s advice does get anti-brief. For example:

“People/communities of color” is a frequently used term, but should only be used if included groups are defined upon first use; be mindful to refer to a specific racial/ethnic group(s) instead of this collective term when the experience is different across groups. Some groups consider the term “people of color” as an unnecessary and binary option (people of color vs. White people), and some people do not identify with the term “people of color”.

“Although the term “LGBTQIA2” is recommended, no explanation is given for what all the letters and the one number mean. The CDC’s new guidelines also missed the chance to announce a contest to determine what the next change to that ever-lengthening alphanumeric string should be. Will the “2” gradually go up to “3” and “4” and so on, in the same way the leading digit on California license plates has done over the past several decades? Or should the string get longer, for instance “LGBTQIA2VM6YR7”? Maybe not, as people might confuse it with a car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Or, like online passwords, maybe at least one special character should be required, e.g. “LGB#TQIA2V%M6YR7.” No hacker’s ever gonna crack that.

A cynic might say that all the CDC’s changes and complexities will be used to justify hiring a cadre of language consultants to interpret the new terms and rules to hapless bureaucrats (forgive my redundancy). Those language consultants will swell the ranks in the army of diversity, equity, and inclusion consultants already on the dole, thereby revealing the true goal of an ever larger government whose minions regulate all aspects of our lives.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a person who engages in thinking—formerly known as a thinker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Little metallic sweat bee on a partridge pea flower

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As you’ve heard in a couple of recent posts, I photographed a bunch of partridge pea plants (Chamaecrista fasciculata) along Wells Branch Parkway on August 13th. At one point I got intrigued by the way a compound leaf cast its shadow on one petal of a partridge pea flower. Not long after I started taking pictures of that, a metallic sweat bee came by to visit the flower. The bee kept moving around and more often than not stayed fully or partly hidden behind petals. Oh well, we photographers do what we can, testing our reflexes to grab quick shots when our subjects briefly come out in the open.


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FOLLOW THE SCIENCE!

Ever since Covid-19 vaccines became more and more available in early 2021, reasonable folks began to wonder about people who’d gotten Covid-19, recovered from it, and therefore had what’s called natural immunity. One question was whether those who’ve acquired natural immunity still need to get vaccinated. Related to that was the question of whether vaccines might cause any harm to people with natural immunity.

For the past several months, the United States government has been saying with increasing vehemence that people with natural immunity must still get vaccinated, all the while declining to offer scientific evidence for the need and safety of that position. Jurisdictions and institutions that have begun calling for proof of vaccination to do various things (for example attend sporting events, eat in restaurants, or even come to work) have refused to exempt Covid-recovered people, even though their immunity has been generally believed to be at least as strong as the one provided by vaccines.

Such stances are political, not scientific. Look at the opening sentence from an August 26th online article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science: “The natural immune protection that develops after a SARS-CoV-2 infection offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a large Israeli study….” The article goes on to give advice to people who have neither had the virus not gotten vaccinated against it: people in that group should get vaccinated. They should not toy with the idea of acquiring immunity by subjecting themselves to the virus, because some people who contract the virus get seriously ill and even die.

I encourage you to read the full article. You may also want to read a similar August 27th article on the ZME Science website. It points out that people who recovered from Covid-19 and then also had a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ended up with even stronger protection than those with naturally acquired immunity alone.

Now that there’s solid scientific confirmation that naturally acquired Covid immunity “offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” will American government jurisdictions stop saying that naturally immune people still need to get two shots of the Pfizer (or Moderna) vaccine? Will institutions that call for proof of vaccination now accept proof of naturally acquired immunity in lieu of vaccination? Don’t hold your breath.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Tiny bees in a white prickly poppy flower

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I don’t know about the species of these tiny bees, but the flower they’re reveling in is Argemone albiflora, the white prickly poppy. This picture comes from June 14th along the Capital of Texas Highway.


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The other day I watched a roughly one-hour-long talk given by economics professor Glenn Loury. Toward the end he became impassioned at times about the need to better educate African-American students so they can fairly compete intellectually. If you’d like to hear the last part of his talk, you can begin listening at around 54:10 and continue to 1:03:00 in the video.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 5, 2021 at 5:46 AM

A bitterweed bud and bloom and beyond and a bee

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It’s been a couple of years since I showed you the common wildflower known as yellow bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. amarum. The native-bee-bedecked portrait above is from August 18th in Round Rock. At the same time I took what I believe are my first pictures ever of a bud in this species, so here’s one of those:

Toward the opposite end of the development cycle, here’s what a seed head looks like when it’s decomposing:

Many parts of the United States are experiencing a summer drought now. People longing for cooler and wetter times may find the following cold-weather fact welcome, and probably also surprising: if a lake has a solid covering of ice 12 inches deep, an 8-ton truck can drive on it. If you want to know how much weight other thicknesses of ice can bear, check out this chart. Notice that the relationship isn’t linear: doubling the thickness allows the ice to bear a lot more than twice the weight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Two takes on sensitive briar

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From July 13th in northwest Austin, here are two takes on sensitive briar that relegate the flowers to secondary roles. In the first photograph, pride of place goes to the buds of the species, Mimosa roemeriana. In the second portrait, the color of the flowers works well to complement the iridescent green of a busily working metallic sweat bee (sorry, I don’t know what species.)

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2020 at 4:38 AM

And on the Lindheimer’s senna…

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Visiting the Lindheimer’s senna flowers (Senna lindheimeriana) that you saw last time were various kinds of insects, including several small metallic sweat bees.

For a closer look at the pollen-gatherer, click below to enlarge an excerpt from another frame.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2018 at 4:41 AM

Bumblebee on fireweed flowers

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From August 30th in Glacier National Park, here’s a bumblebee on some fireweed flowers. The way the bumblebee flitted about on the fireweed reminds me now of the way botanists have been flitting about in some of their classifications. They’ve dubbed fireweed Epilobium angustifolium, Chamerion angustifolium, and most recently Chamaenerion angustifolium. Oh well, that which we call fireweed, by any other name would have flowers that look as good—assuming you’re close enough. After one view of wilted flowers and another of fresh ones from a bit of a distance, you’re finally getting a proper look at some fireweed flowers.

If you’d like to see the many places that fireweed grows in North America, check out the zoomable USDA map. I’d thought of this as a species from the Northwest and Canada and Alaska, and so was glad to finally encounter it on this trip. Now I’m surprised to learn that fireweed grows in 38 out of the 50 states in the United States. That range doesn’t include Texas but it does include Long Island, where I grew up.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2017 at 4:34 AM

Rocky Mountain beeweed

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As if to corroborate the common name Rocky mountain beeweed, I found a native bee on these flowers of Cleome serrulata at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in northern New Mexico on June 12th. An online article about this species notes that other vernacular names for the plant are stinking-clover, bee spider-flower, skunk weed, Navajo spinach, and guaco. This wildflower is a relative of the clammyweed that grows in Austin.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2017 at 4:50 AM

A floral balance at Kasha-Katuwe

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In addition to balanced rocks at Kasha-Katuwe in northern New Mexico on June 12th, here’s a balanced jimsonweed flower (Datura wrightii). Note the tiny native bee on the left side of the flower.

I’d pulled off to the side of the entrance road to photograph the jimsonweed and had barely gotten out of my car when a tribal policeman stopped his patrol car to see what I was up to. I guess very few visitors pull over at a place that doesn’t offer a view of the rock formations.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2017 at 4:48 AM

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