"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Friday, 8 January 2010

It’s cold….bone chilling and brutally cold.

Stating the obvious for most of America and the UK I know. I do feel sorry for people who have come to Florida for some warm winter sun, the orange and strawberry growers are having a bad time here and the poor iguanas who go into suspended animation in cold weather, are falling out of the trees. “Bone chilling and brutal” is CNN´s description.

The paper wasps on the balcony are surviving and so am I. The squirrels are being fed and Chris´little carambola tree which barely survived last year is wrapped, but activity levels here are low:

Paper wasp activity; nil.
Val’s artwork activity; nil.

It’s so cold in our apartment that my work room is out of bounds. I have even had to resort to some house work to keep warm, and that’s a bad sign because, in my friend Gill’s wise words, ¨If I find myself doing housework, it means I have nothing better to do..”

The paper wasps sheltering together on top of their nest yesterday 

So there has only been one thing to do, huddle in bed with laptop, books and blankets, research my next bee project and think of spring.

Some British Bees… too many by half..

I am turning  my attention to British Bees for a while. My long term aim is to make a small booklet about them, well, some of the most common ones, because I find there are over 250 species. How can this be true? I am only planning a slim volume. So I have narrowed it down to the main representatives which one might bump into in the garden or the countryside.

Honey bees. Apis mellifera and the native Black Honey bee Apis melifera melifera

Bumble bees, what the Natural History Museum calls the Big Six.

Bombus pascuorum, the common carder bumble bee
Bombus lapidarius, the red tailed bumble bee
Bombus pratorum, the early bumble bee
Bombus terrestris, the buff tailed bumble bee
Bombus lucorum, the while tailed bumble bee
Bombus hortorum, the garden bumble bee

Solitary bees,
There are many, but I hope to include representatives of
Mining Bees, Anrena sp
Mason bees, Osmia sp
Leafcutter bees, Osmia sp
Wool Carder bees, Anthidium sp
Flower bees, Anthophora sp
Small Carpenter bees, Xylocopa sp
White faced bee, Hylaeus sp
Cellophane bees, Colletes sp
Halictid bee Lasioglossum sp.

Predators and Parasites

Of course not all in the bee garden is sweetness and harmonious humming. In the set of bees I painted for Deborah I did not include or write about the curious and bad mannered Cuckoo Bees who are parasitic on some bee species. They are important to know about and some are visually very beautiful and will include the genus Nomada and Psithyrus.

I have also been reading about the terrifying bee wolf, Philanthus whose gruesome behaviour makes compelling reading…if you have a strong stomach… but does nothing to endear itself to bee lovers and just reinforces a certain perception of insects as thoroughly nasty things. However I am sure it has its place somewhere in the natural order.

I hope you are all keeping warm..:)

2 comments:

Shell said...

We feel it here in Vero. The poor plants are bundled up under more blankets than us and we lost most of the garden. There were tons of tomatoes. :( Keep warm.

sharp green pencil said...

Oh Shell...that is so upsetting. I am often bemoaning not having a garden but I dont miss the disappointment of ruined flowers and crops. I was amazed last year though how quickly the shrubs grew back at Leu Gardens.Hoping your have some recovery soon!