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


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Friday, 9 April 2010

Foxy Lady of the Solitary Bee World, the Tawny Mining Bee.

This is another bee I painted before for Deborah’s 16 bee set here. It’s the lovely Tawny Mining bee, Andrena fulva who leaves little volcanoes in your lawn after  digging out her nest. It is one of my favourites, she is so pretty.

I wrote about it before too, but I am repeating this quote from David Kendall’s site from my previous post, because it is worth repeating and timely.

The female bee makes a small volcano-like mound with the soil excavated from the nest. There may be many nests close together, giving the impression of communal life, but each female is actually working alone. Nesting activity lasts only a short time (perhaps 2-3 weeks), after which the small mounds of earth around each nest entrance soon disappear, with no permanent damage to the lawn. Take care not to confuse solitary bee nest mounds with the mounds of earth caused by the nesting activity of ant colonies. Solitary bee mounds have a single large entrance hole in the middle, and by watching for a short while on a warm sunny day, you will see the bees coming and going to collect pollen.

If left alone, these bees will often nest in the same area year after year, and provide an annual service by pollinating your early flowering fruit trees and shrubs (apples, pears, currants and gooseberries) and other garden plants - so helping to ensure good crops later in the year.

from his very nice readable site “Insects and other Arthropodshere.


Let’s hear it for the Solitary Bees!!

My hesitant efforts to promote the exhibition,  were rewarded recently with an email from an organisation who are having a  “bee support” campaign.  They said they were not really interested in what I was doing because it was about solitary bees and their concern was for honey bees.  I was quite dismayed at this remark (understatement!) which smacks rather of the French attitude which Paul fromSolitary Bee encounters.  Perhaps it came from someone who doesn’t really know much about bees in general (..  she says, trying to be kind), but it did make me more determined to be a champion of these important  “other” bees.

I do realise that, to win the place in our hearts and minds that honey bees occupy, solitary bees have quite long way to go, but they have so much going for them and they serve us so very well. I know there are quite a few of us out there who feel the same. I feel a ranting blog post and campaign coming on !… and how could you not love a little Tawny Mining bee!!


The Painting

I know what I wanted for this one so not so much dithering. She is perching on a twig looking down at the nest she has excavated.

rufa sketch

These are really neat little bees with shortish hair which stands out from the body .. I think I described them before as rather like little bottle brushes. (think of the tree!). I was going to make this the title of the blog post (“Bottle Brush of the Bee World”) but didn’t want to be responsible for any harm coming to Tawny Mining bees: you know how stupid some people can be. 
I have a reasonable scanner but it does average the colours out and I don’t have time to play around with things too much, but in the original she in much more a two tone foxy redhead, as she should be.


The Tawny Mining Bee.. Loveable .. YES..!

Tawney mining bee

Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP.   8x7”


scoutbee said...

You're right! She's totally loveable!! And so is your drawing! We really should pay more attention to them...

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I'm surprised by the Beekeepers who aren't interested in solitary bees. Not a commodity, so not valued? Luckily, most of the Beekeepers in my area are organic-farming, nature-loving hippie-types!

Ellen Rathbone said...

So...if someone wanted to acquire one of your bee paintings...or, more likely, a print of one...how would one go about it? I have been falling in love with your bee art and would love to add one to my little nature art collection.

Shady Gardener said...

Absolutely! Very pretty, and I like the way it seems as she's on watch! :-)

Roasted Garlicious said...

once again, another stunning painting.. i just love how simple but complex your work is :D thanks for sharing

Richard Downes said...

Val - I completely agree with your comments, it's anthropocentric to say only honey bees are important. Frankly I find honey bees boringly well organized and provident, they are obviously the merchant bankers of the insect world.
- Richard

Threadspider said...

You rant away! I have become fascinated by these little bees too and will also heartily champion them!
This latest illustration is delightful-I shall look out for a tawny mining bee.

Marcia said...

What a pretty little bee, we don`t have other bees here except our native ones, the Wool Carder bee has been found here recently - thanks to your painting i was able to identify it at a local garden centre.

Dan said...

What a pretty colour this little bee is!
Seems a bit short-sighted to me to focus on just one type of bee, and not be interested in any others! I hope you've also had more fruitful conversations in promoting your exhibition too!

I've seen a lot of bees around now that the weather is warming up over here, and am pleased to say I have been noticing different kinds, rather than lumping them all into the general 'bee' category.

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you all I am so delighted that you are all getting out there bee spotting! Prepare to be rounded up for my solitary bee campaign!
I will try to get back to you all individually very soon.. and to Carol.. whose comment seems to have gone astray!