An unreliable memoir

Posts tagged “bees

Situation vacant – entomologist needed

Bee fly

Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm +68mm f22 1/180 ISO 200

Although they’re not around at the moment because the temperatures have fallen back and it’s too cold for them, one of my highlights of the year so far has been the appearance of bee flies in my garden. This is interesting because you can’t have bee flies without the solitary bees that they prey on. Bee flies are unmistakable, even for a taxonomic numpty like me – bees less so. I’ve been trying to figure to what solitary bees are around – see below. I think they’re mostly Andrena bicolor, but I’m not sure and so far I haven’t tempted any entomologists to venture an opinion. Any takers?

Andrena bicolor?

Andrena bicolor?

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The Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

Bombus pascuorum

Sony DSC-HX20V ƒ3.2 4.7mm 1/800 ISO 100

On Saturday I was slumped on the sofa being ill when I noticed something unusual buzzing the daffodils outside the window. Bravely I dragged myself outside to investigate but by the time I got there, it had gone. Once I got back inside, it was back again. Obviously. This went on for some time. Until I eventually snapped the offenders, of which there were several feasting on early Spring flowers. From which I conclude that we have a Bombus pascuorum nest somewhere near by. And if you want to know why this early flying bee is commonly called the hairy-footed flower bee, you’re just going to have to use your imagination:

Bombus pascuorum


Buff-tailed Bumblebee queen (Bombus terrestris), with mites

Bombus terrestris
Newly emerged queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) – my first of the year. (Also the first Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies on this sunny afternoon.) It is quite common for newly emerged queen bumblebees to carry quite a heavy cargo of mites. Unlike the parasitic Verroa mite of honeybees, these are commensal mites which have been eating the crud in the nest over the winter. The go along with the queen for a ride and drop off on flowers when she stops for a feed, only to hitch a lift to a new nest on a later bee host.

So answer me this. How big is the brain in these mites? How do they mange to figure all that out?

Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f32 70mm +68mm 1/250 ISO 100