Saturday, July 9, 2016
Mountainview Cemetery July Bee Safari
My bee safari buddy Jasna accompanied me on a trip to Mountainview Cemetery where we had a few good sightings. In the east meadow we found this andrena mining bee with velvety facial hair, velvet jodphurs and velvety bands of pale hair on her abdomen. She's a beauty. The flower she's sunning herself on is wild brown-eyed Susan.
Jasna spotted another bee (possibly the same species) curled around the stamens of a red geum flower. This is am example of a red flower that bees will visit, in spite of seeing red petals as black.
On a return trip to the same garden I captured a couple of blurry shots of a coelioxys cuckoo bee. Note the prongs on the back of the abdomen. She looked very similar to colletes in the nearby nodding onions, but it has those large green compound eyes. Also, note the way it tilts up its abdomen at the back, like the leafcutter it parasitizes.
There were two patches of nodding onion monopolized by plasterer bees (Colletes). They are hard to photograph because the onions are so low to the ground, and they disappear into the flowers while foraging.
But you can see her tongue here in this shot.
And note the "prison stripes" on her tear-drop shaped abdomen. The males are smaller, slimmer, with longer antennae. They were impossible to photograph because they were defensively patrolling the nodding onions. Apart from wool carder bees, this is the only other male bee that I have seen using defensive behavior, knocking honeybees right out of the flowers! These bees obviously have a preference for nodding onions, so I am on a mission to get more of the plants and the bees in gardens.
I'm also on a mission to upgrade my bumblebee ID skills, and yes, even including the males, which are very difficult to pin down to species. And I'm beginning to appreciate the subtle beauty of the silvery blonde male bees.
The melissodes digger bees love the abundant Coreopsis grandiflora in the meadow right now. I do wish they would replicate this meadow all along the verge where it is planted.
I love this photo: the long horns of the male melissodes and the dramatic petals of the coreopsis make me a happy camper. Don't the petals look like the strokes of a paintbrush?
Okay, so here we have one of those difficult bee ID's. I posted the photos on Bugguide and Dr. Ascher thinks it's Bombus rufocinctus. This bee has many variations. So many, that bee nerds have a joke: "It's always Bombus rufocinctus." Well, I thought it was funny.
She was the side of a queen, and almost chocolatey in some places. If she wasn't so large I would have clocked the bee as male. Anyway, I love a surprise.