It is more complex why bees buzz than the proverb about honey and nectar.
Prairie partridge pea flowers fall into the buzz pollination type. Flowers that release pollen in response to sound coming from pollen vectors, in this case various bumblebees. There is no nectar in this flower to attract, and pay pollinators and generally bees are pollen collectors, not nectar eaters in the butterfly and hummingbird categories.
This common dry prairie plant appears along Mississippi, Wisconsin and St. Croix rivers lowlands. Its foliage is sensitive to touch, collapsing for a time as well as “sleeping” at night.
Partridge pea, while not a legume and unrelated to various pea species, is sometimes placed in seed mixtures for pollinator species plantings. Why an annual, which partridge pea is? Most prairie plants are perennials. Maybe USDA botanists stick it in to give those who plant pollinator species plots something that will flower three months after planting the first year. Or maybe it can grow like a forest spring ephemeral does and goes seed-to-seed before the tall grasses and forbs take over in summer.
With all the angst over milk terms, botanists seem to have no problem using it as a verb and saying, “large bees milk the partridge pea anthers through vibration, causing release of pollen clouds through terminal pores in anthers.”
If ever there was a time to watch ruby-throated hummingbirds in natural settings, it is now. Hang around cardinal flowers, but make it 6 a.m., or earlier. Apparently, hummingbirds are early risers, very hungry after a night without sugar, or the cardinal flower of lowland areas releases its nectar, and pollen, as the sun comes up.
Young male hummers have still not learned garages are for trucks and cars and few flowers bloom here.
Horseflies are not known as good pollinators, but they and comparatively half-pint deer flies are tormenting horses, of course, and deer, but not humans so much. Horse riders and caregivers have come to use masks that cover the horses’ faces and ears to add some protection. These inch-and-a-quarter flies have been known to kill large animals by removing blood.
Turkey hunters, berry pickers and general outdoors types aren’t stupid when they cover their own faces with hunting masks and nets. It works.
Grouse sampling kits, 400 of them to check for West Nile Virus, can be requested from county wildlife biologists. Each kit provides what hunters need to sample a single grouse shot or found dead. A small amount of blood and the bird’s heart are collected and returned to the DNR. The bird’s meat can be retained by the hunter.
Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations (bonus tags) are on sale. After Wednesday, BAHAs for all zones will be available at one per person per day until sold out. Cost is $12, $20 and $5 for residents, nonresidents and youth 11 and younger, respectively.
A ginseng research project has begun using field cameras, which monitor individual plant’s phenology until the plant goes senescent. This project is being conducted by the DNR and is being done on private property, with landowners’ knowledge and permission. Prior to emergence next spring, more cameras will be set to monitor all events throughout the growing months.
Mike Starshak, of the Wisconsin Hickory Association, predicts that gathering shagbark hickory nuts is likely to be slim throughout the natural range of the tree. In addition to nuts for numerous uses, hickory trees are used for lumber, firewood, making syrup, shade trees and a host of lesser endeavors. We’re losing those Native American and settler hickory traditions.Hickory trees usually have good production years every other year, with bonanza years about every 10 years, like 2017, which was one of the best in many decades.
Wisconsin has two native hickories, shagbark and yellowbud (bitternut), with shellbark hickories found in select locations along the Illinois border. Hickories are wind pollinated and hybridize occasionally, which leads to variation in nut size and taste. Starshak describes yellowbud nuts as nearly inedible by most animals, including humans.
Deer coat colors, antlers and fawns spots continue to change weekly. Velvet shedding is likely to begin within two weeks and be complete by the season opener, Sept. 15.
Autumn’s gold is taking over many fields, roadsides and pastures, with goldenrod being most prominent. These insect-pollinated plants have heavy, sticky pollen, which doesn’t blow up our noses. Yellowing is one of many color and texture changes we are unlikely to miss.