The bee's life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more it fills with water
Karl von Frisch
In last week’s blog about Ginger Meggs and the Blue-banded Bees, I quoted expert advice that it can be hard to tell the different Blue-banded species apart by fur colour alone. So when I saw two different male Blue-banded Bees a few days ago, I was unsure whether they were of the same species. First there was this one, with lush golden-brown fur on its thorax and good blue iridescence in its stripes.
Last week I noted that there were fewer birds around, perhaps because of the smoke haze and the drought. The same was true for bees. After we finally had some rain a week ago, I walked over to a patch of Guinea Flowers (Hibbertia) where I usually see bees. I found few surviving flowers, and none of the usual bee visitors. However, I did see this Blue-banded Bee settling on one flower.
As she curled up to buzz the pollen, an orange shape appeared behind her:
The patrons of the ‘bee hotel’ beside our house include a few female Blue-Banded Bees. This is one returning to her nest tunnel inside the hotel.
Only the females sleep in their nests, however, and I wondered where the males went. Eventually I found one place. The other side of our house is not much visited by me because it has no through-way, but one day at dusk I spotted this lily bract:
On Friday, I went for what I thought would be a quick walk. As it happened there was quite a lot of wildlife, all too busy watching other wildlife to pay me much attention. Fortunately, I had taken my camera along "just in case".
The wildlife interactions began pleasantly, with this Grey Butcherbird feeding a juvenile too lazy to pick up food for itself:
I heard recently about a place where there were Carpenter bees, and another spot where there was an osprey’s nest, but when I looked for the bees, they were all gone, and I couldn’t check out the ospreys for over a week because I’d injured my knee falling over in the North Sydney CBD!
When I did finally find the osprey nest, there were no chicks, just a bored looking kookaburra, but then I noticed three Carpenter bees on a nearby patch of dianella. They were all females, and I promptly christened the nearest one Justine, after a cousin of mine who has pink hair.
After staying in several garden-free English B&Bs, it was delightful to arrive at Mimosa Lodge in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where there was a half-acre of garden AND sunshine. I could hear a number of birds as we pulled in. However, when I went outside after unpacking, I discovered that much of the wildlife activity was coming from insects in the flower bed next to the breakfast terrace, and in the nearby flowering trees.
The first thing I noticed was the darker coloration of many of the honey bees. I concluded that these must be British Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera).