Ask the Ombudsman
Q: I noticed a small tree in the woods with green twigs and unusual pink fruits hanging from the twigs. Can you identify it?
A: That small native tree is called wahoo; the Latin name is Euonymus atropurpureus. It is not uncommon in Missouri, but it is often overlooked except when it is bearing many small purple flowers in the spring or when it has the drooping pink fruits that you observed in the fall. The fourlobed pink capsules will dry and split open to reveal seeds with bright red coverings. Many types of birds eat the seeds and deer will browse the foliage and stems. Related native plants in the genus Euonymus include the rare strawberry bush and running strawberry bush, and the invasive exotics—winged burning bush and wintercreeper.
Q: On my property I found honeycombs hanging from a tree limb. What builds such an exposed hive?
A: I receive a few reports each year of honeycombs hanging from the undersides of tree branches or attached to the underside of overhanging roofs. Although they usually build hives in hollow trees or occasionally in the walls of houses, wild honeybees rarely will build those unprotected hives. It may be that a lack of hollow trees in the area causes the bees to build in such an unsuitable location. There is little chance that a bee colony will survive a Missouri winter in an exposed hive due to their inability to regulate the temperature in the hive. Beekeepers are sometimes willing to move honeybee colonies into hive boxes, but a colony moved late in the year is unlikely to survive the coming winter. The exposed hives are often not discovered until fall or winter when the leaves are off the trees.
Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or email him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.
Investing in Our Conservation Futures
The start of winter brings so many great opportunities for Missourians to step outside and experience the state’s natural bounties. The colder weather brings the peak mallard migration, increased furbearer activity, and an opportunity to harvest a deer with a variety of new methods during the alternative methods portion of firearms deer season.
I’ve made many great memories braving the December cold. I can still vividly remember my first duck hunt at Otter Slough Conservation Area. Waking up at an hour I wasn’t sure existed. The anticipation that coursed through my body as I stood in line for the draw. The happiness I felt when the number I pulled from the box had a 14 on it. The pain I felt in my hands and feet after breaking ice for an hour. The pride I felt when I saw my first bird crumple over the decoys, a drake pintail.
That maiden pursuit was undoubtedly life changing. The interaction with nature had a profound effect on me. That duck hangs from my wall as a reminder of that day. It also reminds me of the friends who took me hunting, taking time to share their knowledge so I would enjoy my first experience in the field.
I’m confident that many of Missouri’s citizens have stories similar to mine. As the Missouri Department of Conservation’s 75th anniversary celebration of service to the citizens of this great state comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on the joyous experiences the resource has brought us. There are many Missourians who have yet to catch a bluegill, bag a turkey, or even plant a tree. Let’s make a point to share our love for the outdoors with others to ensure another 75 years of conservation success.