By Wendy Langhans
One evening this week as I was watering my plants, I noticed a few cactus buds that were almost ready to bloom. I made a note to check back early the next morning, because most cactus blossoms don’t last very long after they open. And sure enough, the next morning the flowers were open and resplendent in the first light of dawn. As I zoomed in with my camera to take a photo, I noticed that the anthers were covered with a dusting of white pollen.
That surprised me; I thought pollen was yellow. And now that I think of it, didn’t I see some wild blackberry blossoms last month in Elsmere Canyon? I went back and checked my photos from that trip. Yes, their anthers were covered in light gray pollen. And what about those wooly blue curls I saw last week? I re-checked the photos. The pollen on those anthers looked reddish brown. Obviously I was mistaken about the yellow pollen; I let my pre-conceptions get in the way of what I was seeing.
So now I’m curious - are different pollen colors less visible to the bee? If it’s reddish brown, it may be less visible,
because bees don’t see the color red. But how about white or gray pollen? The pollen may be less visible, because bees are attracted to bright colors. But then again, maybe what we see is deceiving. Bees see in UV light, so what looks gray to us may actually look different to the bee in UV light.
So the bottom line is this: I don’t know if pollen color makes a difference to the bee. And I suppose I’m going to have to do some investigating to find out. One of the great things about spending time outdoors is that there’s always something new to discover - even if that discovery is made while watering potted plants on the front porch. Especially if that discovery means truly SEEING what I had, up-till-now, been merely seeing.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, May 24, and every Wednesday, 8:00 am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information call
Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Saturday, May 31, Elsmere Canyon, 8:30 am. Hike at Elsmere Canyon.
Here’s a chance to explore an important piece of the wildlife corridor between the San Gabriel and Santa SusanaMountains. Park at the Whitney Canyon Parking Lot.
For directions go to http://lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=65 
For more information about the hike, go to www.communityhikingclub.org 
Sponsored by the Community Hiking Club
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com.