Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Birds do it, bees do it

and sometimes, hover flies show up to watch.

At first I didn't realize what I'd caught at the time I was taking these photos.  I began out front, snapping the bees working the spineless prickly pear blossoms (Opuntia ellisiana).  There were loads of flowers and even more bees, diving in to get their fair share.  [I took a deep breath and attempted my own identification efforts this time - all mistakes made here are solely my own!]
I believe this is a Mason or perhaps a Leaf Cutter Bee (Megachilidae). They carry pollen on their belly rather than in pollen baskets on their legs.

Non-native Apis mellifera - the European Honey Bee

Lots of honey bees - someone has been doing their waggle dance!  Note how full their corbicula (pollen baskets) are.
So far, so good.  I moved out back where I spotted more bee activity on a Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera), and in addition noted a couple of Syrphid flies hanging in the air close by.  A three-fer! I moved in to see if I could capture the action.

Capture the action? Boy, did I ever.  I almost blushed when I enlarged the photos on my computer and got a better look at everything going on.  

These are some form of Ceratina, small native carpenter bees, that nest in pithy stems.
You don't need a degree in entomology to determine what is happening here.  Jeepers. Ahem!  The Great Circle of Life!

Afterwards, one of the bees stuck around and continued to feed.  The Syrphids, better known as hover flies, stuck around too, and I don't even want to speculate as to why.    

Brings a whole new level of meaning to "busy as a bee" doesn't it?


Tina said...

What a great post!! Laughed out loud, I did! Those are such excellent photos and fun text! I'm trying so hard to learn more patient photography skills, with minimal success. Thanks for a great start to my day!

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Phew. I'm glad you see the humor.

Though my family is quite used to it, I'm pretty sure my neighbors are convinced I'm totally nuts because they see me just standing around in the middle of my beds pointing my camera at a bloom and...waiting....and....waiting....and. I bet they're thinking "just snap the daggone photo already, that flower's not going anywhere!"

Debra said...

I really like how you captured all the pollen speckles in that first picture.

Neighbors. Worse than chickens.
Never mind them. Art takes time. And these are great shots. Dare I say 'money' shots? Forgive me I couldn't help myself.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Hahahaha! So funny - neighbors vs. chickens and, ahem! money shots. You are my kind of people, no forgiveness required here!

Cathy Thompson said...

Superb pictures Deb! I'd say they are 'money shots' too. Could I be boring and ask what kind of camera you are using? But the Ratibida impressed me almost as much as your pictures and your knowledge of the bees. I'm determined to try and learn more about them this year, since they seem to adore our garden with all the little holes in the walls and borage everywhere. Keep the lovely pictures coming!

TexasDeb said...

Cathy: I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35. It is a bit cumbersome but I enjoy seeing what I can capture lazily using "just" the automatic settings provided.

I'm a huge fan of Mexican Hat/Ratibida - what are they called colloquially in France?