Saturday, July 19, 2014

July Bee Safari at UBC Botanical Gardens

A mining bee (Andrena prunorum) sips nectar next to a soldier beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva) on masterwort (Astrantia).

Erin Udall was invited to help identify some of the bees in UBC Botanical Gardens. I tagged along to take photographs. We had a really good time thanks to our garden guides Douglas Justice and Tara Moreau.

I've nicknamed Andrena prunorum the fox bee because of her furry legs and reddish and black furry body. Her long legs must come in handy when she's digging out her nest. We saw more of these bees than I've seen anywhere else in Vancouver, which indicates there is some great habitat for ground nesting bees here on the open sunny side of the botanical garden. There's also a good amount of the nectar and pollen-bearing plants this bees loves. For a breakdown of floral associations, check out the list here at The soldier beetle is an imported insect from Europe which sips nectar and preys on small insects. Its larva feed on snails.

 We haven't identified this bee yet, but I have nicknamed it the Jackalope bee because of its long antlers. It looks suspiciously like a cellophane bee (Colletes spp).
This would be a male, as they have slightly longer antennae than the females.

I always like to try to get a photograph of two species of bees in one shot so you can see the difference in size, shape and color. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a great plant to attract bees of all stripes. This photograph was taken in the Physic Garden, which is a perfect space for bees to forage because it is a sun trap and it's protected from the wind.

Along with a number of Vosnesensky bees, we saw many blonde bees, and what Erin identified as a light variation of Bombus flavifrons aka The yellow-fronted bee. (You can see some of the variations here on The flower is woodland germander (Teucrium scorodonia).

If you like sea holly and globe thistle, both excellent xeriscape bee plants, you will love Rattlesnake Master, a New World Eryngium (E. yuccifolium). Notice that this is an umbel, with each flower head made up of tiny florets.

 This plant in particular was popular with the Andrena prunorum.

Erin also spotted a crab spider sucking the vital fluids out of a honeybee. Another insect watches with interest.

 This small turquoise sweat bee was the third species of ground-dwelling bees we found on the steep slope of the rock garden.

A honeybee and red soldier beetle meet on the pink florets of a milkweed (Asclepius).

Can you see the nest hole? The leaf cutter bee nesting in this site is likely using an old beetle hole. The pine cone will serve as a marker for her to find her nest entrance again. (Hopefully no-one will move it.) Erin also spotted a cuckoo bee (Coelyoxis) hanging around the entrance on the leaves of the false dandelion.

Erin found an old ragged bumble bee, literally missing a few body parts, with a big bald patch where the setae have been worn off by foraging.

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