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

Friday, 26 March 2010

Lasioglossum calceatum, the Slender Mining Bee.. and Rivers of Flowers from Buglife.

This lovely Lasioglossum bee is in the tribe Halictiniae which is a huge family of bees. These are the old bees, the ancient bees whose descendants were flying around 220 million years ago. I have painted a couple of them, including my first live model, the accommodating Agapostemon splendens which I wrote about here “The Stripy Halicitd Sweat Bee.” Looking at the UK Lasioglossum bees you can see the family resemblance, but it seems that in the UK we don’t have quite such colourful varieties.

In looking for information about these bees I came across Jeremy Earley’s really excellent site Nature Conservation Imaging.  The site is particularly fascinating because he breaks it down into different UK habitats and what you might find there. I spent hours reading through the excellent notes, which are illustrated with his wonderful photographs. It is a really informative site on solitary bees so I contacted him for a little help re the species and their favourite flowers. He kindly sent me back a list of foraging plants taken from David Baldock’s “Bees of Surrey” which was published two years ago.

'most often found at ragwort. Other flowers used include thistles, buttercups, common fleabane, lesser burdock, sheep’s-bit, red campion, chickweed and rough hawkbit.'

I think in trying to identify bees it really helps to know where you might find them!  I had earmarked Rough Hawkbit for this bee some time ago but felt the humble Dandelion really needed a place in the exhibition especially as it is a star amongst bee flowers. It is in the same huge Asteraceae family of composites, Hawkweeds, Cat’s Ears, and the Sow Thistles etc, which incidentally seems to be the only thing thriving here at the moment.

Rivers of Flowers in every County.  B LINES from Buglife…

I had a blissful morning with the radio and some pencils. Tweet deck was off. Photoshop, Illustrator and their accomplices were dormant. I was listening to the news and heard Buglife.org, one of the charities who will be supporting the exhibition, calling for the UK to be crossed with flower filled corridors for bees. What a lovely idea and beautiful image. 

B-lines would be rivers of flowers in every county, one going east west and the other north south. They would be carefully planned to avoid woods, lakes and other unsuitable habitats, but would connect people to wildlife sites to enable better appreciation of British wildlife.”

6 spot burnet (c) Andrew Whitehouse 

This photo accompanies the article, the beautiful Six-spot burnet moths (Zygaena filipendulae)© Andrew Whitehouse, on Vipers Bugloss I think.

They want the government to step in but I was thinking, if everyone sowed just one packet of wildflower seeds it would make a real difference and I am all for guerilla planting.. think of all those arterial roads, their verges and roundabouts. It’s an interesting article. Do read more, Call For More Wildflowers.   I will be donating a small watercolour to them for their annual charity auction next month which I will (hope to) be painting in the next few days and will put on the blog.

The Painting. .

I think a lot about how to make an image, where I place things and what I want to say. I am struck by the delicacy of these little bees and was wondering how the world looks from their persepctive. A low leaf to us is high to them. So I deliberately kept the space below him clear and uncluttered just to give a sense of the airiness and lightness. It is, after all, irrelevant how far the drop is to the ground if you can fly! 

These little things make me feel like some lumpen, clumsy Gulliver. Jainism is looking more attractive by the day!  I suppose the rot set in when Ant came to stay. Dear Ant! I do miss him. Paper Wasps are just not the same, far too serious. No cavorting around the drawing board for them, just baleful glaring.

sketches sm 

Grubby sketches but useful to me, they just help me sort out ideas quickly. Then the final picture. Yes, I did include the dandelion flower, but not quite all :).

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Lasioglossum calcaetum with Dandelion

 

Lasioglossum cal

 Watercolour and Graphite on  Arches HP approx 8”x8”

****And a big thank you to all, for your kind comments and emails, re my battles with the hard grey stuff. Lord knows, I have troubles enough with the soft grey stuff. Some degree of calm returned today and it does help to know I am not the only one, but serene gliding is still some way off..

8 comments:

Lucy Corrander said...

Charmed by the idea of B-Lines.

Looks like Vipers Bugloss to me too.

Hadn't realised these black and red fly-like creatures are moths. I find them mildly repellent.

Off to see the site you recommend.

Swans legs may paddle wildly under water but I would imagine they provide stability too. Where would you be without your pencils? Keep paddling!

Lucy

Lucy said...

Have put advert for your Bee exhibition in sidebar of LOOSE AND LEAFY

Hope that's a good idea.

Lucy

scoutbee said...

I came here for the first time today and am very impressed by your pictures! Already regretting that I won't be able to see them at the exhibition in London. Will sure visit here more often to enjoy them. Thanks!

Marcia said...

HI Val, beautiful work as always, silly question, but do you sell your work ? I would love an Apis mellifera drawing one day . . .

sharp green pencil said...

Lucy.. wonderful! thank you. My pencils ah yes! I am such an old fashioned girl.

Scoutbee: lovely of you to visit!and fascinating to hear about your beefilm! Will be in touch.

Marcia: thank you so much and yes of course. email me and we can chat about the possibilities.

Dan said...

Hi Val

Thanks for your comment. Yes, if you click on the bee it takes you to your bog. I also gave your exhibitiona mention in this post http://frogsdogsferns.blogspot.com/2010/02/small-is-beautiful.html

Now that you have your exhibition confirmed I'll put your new button on my sidebar too.

We've been so busy on the house with the good weather, but I hope to make time to update my blog this weekend or early next week.

Best wishes

Dan

Jane said...

How could I not love this picture! one of my favourite little bees. They were all over the dandelions last summer - and I've had to leave the patch (much to neighbours disgust) so that they return (along with all the others that love them).

We have a wildflower meadow in our village which last year was covered in 6 spotted burnet - as you walked through them they all took flight. An amazing spotty site.

Looking forward to the exhibition.

I've only seem one solitary bee in the garden so far this spring - but plenty of bumbles. Spring has sprung...

sharp green pencil said...

Dan thank you so much you are a star! ..

Jane. it is a dear little bee isn't it.I really enjoyed painting this one. and I have to laugh about your neighbours. think yourself lucky you don't live next to my Dad! Those 6 spotted burnets are beautiful It must have been quite a sight and so glad spring has sprung..not here yet!!