Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Purple Sage and Honeybees

The summer monsoon started on schedule the first week of July, and it’s been a pretty good monsoon this year. The NWS has my neighborhood marked at 4.88″ of rain over the last two months, and although it’s slowing down some, there may be a couple more storms before it’s finished.

Between showers, the sage bushes put on another good show.

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And around the corner:

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This is Purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), also called “Texas Ranger”, or (appropriately, I think) “Texas Rain Sage”. (They’re not really sage — salvia — but I don’t think we can change the name now.) They bloom any time of year, whenever they get rained on.

And look at these flowers!

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They look juicy, don’t they? Who could resist? Not these girls…

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Of course, this is Apis mellifera, probably the Italian strain, ligustica, guessing from the color and relative lack of hair. OK, that and the fact that those are the most common strain of honeybees in the US. These bees here were too busy to care that I was hovering over them with the camera.

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Unlike the miner bees — not shown here, because rather than have their picture taken, they stung me. And after they sting, they don’t make a very pretty picture.

Back to the friendly bees:

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Even at the end there, where the flowers are looking a little spent, the bees were still all over them. These bushes had been looking quite sad before the rain started: the leaves shrunk to a quarter of their usual size, and the stems were clearly visible. I was really glad to see them spring to life again with the rain.

They’re native to Texas, and northeastern Mexico, but not Arizona. Still, I accept volunteers from these in the yard, because they really brighten the neighborhood.

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4 thoughts on “Purple Sage and Honeybees

  1. solarbeez on said:

    What a beautiful sage bush! Glad to see it got restored in the rainfall. Does this mean your drought is over?
    Sorry you got stung. I’m surprised. I’ve never been stung while photographing bees. I just sort of thought they didn’t do that because they are not defending their hive.

    • We’re still pretty drought-y here. We need about 4″ more rain by the end of September to make our average. It could happen, but doesn’t look likely. Looking around, though, everything is green all over!

      The miner bees were nervous when I first saw them, and flew at my face to make me go away. When I came back with the camera, I didn’t see them because I was looking too high up. They nest in or near the ground. They might have stung me protecting their nest, which I never did find.

      I think honeybees are more comfortable having us around “managing” them, plus we actively select for friendlier populations. Beeks here are very involved in keeping their hives cool (temperamentally). Miner bees don’t get that attention from us.

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