From Bilums to Bees

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Inspiration failed to appear this morning and I was weary of trolling through images for fresh fish. Today is Dive Day, anyway, so I’ll have new images with which to play later today. Before I get to my stroll in the garden this morning, I’ll show you this bright collection of the iconic bit of Papua New Guinea art known in Tok Pisin  as a bilum.

A bilum  is simply a string bag. However, it is the Queen of String Bags. There are as many patterns as there are minds to dream them:Above is a small section of the display of the hundreds which are available at the main market in Madang Town every day. They used to sell for a pitifully small price. I’m glad that the people who make them and their agents at the marked have demanded higher prices. The amount of skill and labour which goes into the making of them is considerable. It deserves a proper payment.

In the garden this morning were the usual suspects. Here a tiny checker-board winged fly takes a snooze on a yellow flower:

I did not awake until 07:00 this morning, an unusual occasion. By the time I got out to the garden the golden light of the sun was intensifying nicely.

This flower was glowing furiously. The colour is all wrong. It was not red, but more of a violet colour. Some weird combination of factors prevented me from getting the correct colour. I’m going to have to investigate that:

It’s pretty enough as it is.

A stroll through the garden would not be satisfactory without a relaxing study of the orange lilies:

You may as well get used to these, because I am never going to cease finding new ways to display their beauty

I almost missed this small bee resting on a hibiscus leaf:

They usually fly away when I try to get my lens close enough for a good macro shot. This one seemed not to care. Possibly it was tired.

This is easily the shot of the day and a great example of photographer’s luck. Any fool can take pictures and most fools can do a pretty good job of it. Sometimes the difference is simply patience. I spent a full fifteen minutes squatting on the grass shooting frame after useless frame:

These bees are indeed busy, busy. They stay on each flower for an average of four or five seconds and then fly quickly to another. I feel like a big mackerel attacking a huge school of bait fish. Which one to chase?

Time to load the boat.

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18 Responses to “From Bilums to Bees”

  1. Muffet Petrehn Says:

    Great Shot!! I am really enjoying reading your blog!

  2. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Jan, you knocked my socks off with these bee photos. That second shot is indeed a masterpiece—the kind of high-end pro shots we used in our best science textbooks. That 15 minutes really paid off.

    To my naturalist’s eye, what really caught my attention, though, was that first image. Look at those two yellow blogs just behind the bee’s head. They are not parasites; I’m almost positive that a very clever flower stuck those pollen pods to the bees back when it came in for nectar. In some cases, the mechanism is just like a lever — the weight of the bee makes the stamens bend down and touch the back of the bee, like getting stamped! The pollen pod sticks to the back of the bee and gets removed as when it enters another flower of the same species. Very, very cool adaptation by the flower, no?

  3. Steven Goodheart Says:

    PS — I think the flower most known for this trick is the orchid, and I bet you have plenty of these.

  4. ZydecoDoug Says:

    I stumbled upon your site about a year ago, at the prompting of some sad, weary soul blogger from South Florida, whose own life seems more a tale of misadventures than true adventures. But I find in your site not a mention of things that were, or could have been, but of things that are real and part of your daily life. And those things, above and below the surface of the sea, are wonderful. Thanks, Mad Dog!

  5. Steve Bennett Says:

    Eat the Lilly, eat the lilly.

  6. MadDog Says:

    How, Steve? Salad? Beer battered? Fried with mushrooms? Raw? What’s the “regular way”?

  7. MadDog Says:

    Having seen your work, Muffet, I take that as a serious complement. Thanks.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Okay, Steve, puffing my head up at 06:30 on Sunday morning – that’s a good move.

    I think you are exactly right, Steve, about the two little pollen patches. I don’t know what flower it is, but I do remember reading about it somewhere. It’s cool to have a shot of it. It’s a great way to make sure that your gene pool gets constantly stirred.

  9. MadDog Says:

    Funny you should mention the orchid, Steve. I think vanilla is a kind of orchid. On my last trip up to Nob Nob, my old buddy Tag Tap was showing us how her polinates by hand his vanilla flowers. It’s a tricky litte motion with a tiny sitck, pushing it in and then pulling it out just right. He said that there is a bee that does it also, but he wants to make sure, in case a flower has not been visited.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, ZydecoDoug. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone who keeps a genuine journal on the web. It is a kind of soul baring, not unlike publishing a daily diary. I could write about all the things that worry me – I’m a World Champion Worrier. However, since my journal is largely therapeutic, I find it better for me, and for my readers, I think, if I concentrate mostly on the things which lift me up, even if those are sometimes introspective and worrisome. Thinking constructively about one’s problems seems to me to be a first step toward solving them.

    What could have been, should have been, might have been – in a better world. That’s not my bag. Life is what it is. Best make the best of it. Squeeze that lemon!

  11. Steven Goodheart Says:

    MadDog, way cool about the vanilla being in the orchid family….the flowers sure do look like an orchid, now that you mention it. I bet your fresh vanilla is wonderful!

    Yeah, I love seeing how mutual adpations work — don’t know if this would be a case of “mutualism” or not — but whatever it’s called, it’s truly wondrous, when you stop and think about it. And now, should I need an image showing that, I know who to come to! (I actually tried to find video showing the plant doing its “bee stamp” thing, but couldn’t find one.)

    I loved your comments to ZyedecoDoug…amen, brother, amen! Or, in Buddhist terms, gasho! (deep bow!) LOL!

  12. MadDog Says:

    I haven’t bothered to look it up, but the plant itself looks very much like an orchind and so do the flowers. It is even an epiphyte. I just took the top off of the vanilla brew. It is the first thing I have smelled in months. It must be very strong. It is clear and very dark brown. I’m going to leave it for a few more weeks. I’m glad to know my sense of smell is coming back. I still smell smoke most of the time, but it is getting less predominant. I stuck my nose in one of my jasmine blossoms the other day and got a nice little whiff of it. I’m feeling rather blessed.

    ZyedecoDoug seems like a cool guy to me. Too bad he doesn’t list a site. I’d like to find out what makes him tick.

    Stay cool, brother.

  13. MadDog Says:

    Hey, steve, I forgot to mention – if you do find that “bee stamp” thing, write about it on your science blog and I’ll link to the post.

  14. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Thanks for the link post offer my man! Will do!

    I had forgotten about your recovering smell! I am so glad it’s coming back, which also means your sense of taste should be improving. That was a rough spell for you, my friend. I was worried, but glad you soldiered through, with a (more than a) little help from your antibiotics and, most important, big love from your Eunie!

  15. MadDog Says:

    Steve, I smelled some very nice hash today (the beef kind). First time in months!

  16. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Mmmm, that can smell soooo good! Happy for you!

  17. Steve Bennett Says:

    I can confirm that yes, the vanilla vine/plant is an orchid. And Daylilly flowerss can be consumed raw, in fact, the whole plant is edible and the culinistas of SE-Asia will fry the bud and the stems in stir-frys. I just stick to the flowers, eaten raw. But you could beer-batter them much the same way one would batter a zuchinni or a pumpkin flower…

  18. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Steve. I have to actually think for a minute if I want to eat my orange lilies. I always have plenty of the, so I suppose downing a few wouldn’t matter much. I can always ger our gardener to plant more. Eunie loves to stir-fry, so I’ll let her have a go.