These flowers fascinate me . . . and the bees, too. Can you see the bee in here? He burrows in, covers himself with the pollen, comes up for air and then immediately dives in again on the next flower. He is really quick; a lot quicker than I am.
What I am trying to show here are the different stages of these beautiful red flowers. In the center of the cactus plant, it looks like cement. You can see the stickery things that look like worms coming out of that cement-like part. There are also tiny little buds of red that are much like the closed-up flowers. When these buds open up, they are open for only a couple of days, giving just enough time for the bees to do their thing, I guess. Next, they close up and fade to black. This is apparently how the cactus grows taller, but it is a slow process.
There has been a pair of leaf hopper-type bugs in there every day when I go out to shoot, but I don’t know what their purpose may be, except to somehow help pollinate these flowers. You can see one of these insects just below the open flower at the center top. Some days there are two of them, and they seem to be doing their best to create more of their kind, if you get my drift. They seem to be hanging around in the same general area every time I go out there, so not sure how they divvy up the territory with the bees.
You can click, let load, and click again to see a REALLY magnified close-up of the center of this flower. It is really quite interesting. Be careful not to prick yourself on those sabers growing up in the middle of the cactus plant!