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Bees at Leu Gardens

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Friday 7 May 2010

Bees at Leu Gardens

On Sunday Chris and I had walked around briefly around the Gardens without anything much in mind, but now I can’t seem to go anywhere without being distracted by bees. We saw a huge queen American Bumble Bee Bombus pennsylvanicus, she was magnificent,  a few honey bees and  the wonderful green eyed carpenter bee, so today I took the morning off to go for a slower meander around to see what was happening.  The Gardens are slowly recovering from the terrible winter damage but many old friends have died and all the lovely frangipanis are withered stumps. I wonder if they will be able to regenerate? It’s clear that things are a good month behind here as Chris and I were able to eat loquats from the tree.. last year they were ripe in  March.

There were some bees..not that many, but quite a few honey bees on the roses.. and then these. (The camera and its operator are not the best but it is a nice record of a sunny morning in May.)

On exactly the same patch of salvia,  a smaller Bombus pennsylvanicus the only bumble bee I saw today.


On Bulbine frutescens (also known as Bulbinella, Snake flower, Cat’s tail, Burn jelly plant) there were quite a few of these tiny bees, they seemed to be grey with a stripy abdomen,  very fast and difficult to photograph. This was the best of many blurred or just empty frames! The plant itself is very interesting as it’s an old medicinal plant used for  skin conditions.. hence the name “burn jelly” 


Next, resting  on a blackberry leaf was this little bee. Pollen baskets full and with blue eyes.


By another patch of salvia was this bee which I am assuming is a Megachile and the nearest match I can find is the Megachile lanata. It was stopping every now and then for a brush up. It had very distinctive cream hairs on its face and was more gingery than any Megachile I have seen before.

crop 7    crop6 crop8

and then gorgeous old green eyes,  the gentle Southern Carpenter bee Xylocopa micans who was in exactly the same place as on Sunday too, on a pretty arching shrub which Joel thinks is a verbena of some sort. Its eyes are really extraordinarily huge!

crop 1

crop 2

Elegant wasps were floating around the bushes and flowers.  Here is a Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Sceliphron caementarium feeding on the fennel. Wasps are so much easier to photograph than bees!  wasp on fennel

There are dragonflies galore which all seem to have come out just now. Sometimes they will stay still enough  for even my slow camera to get a shot. The most spectacular ones are the saddlebag dragonflies,  which are huge and whose dark wing bases making their body size appear enormous. Although silhouetted against the sky this is one of the Red Saddlebags Tramea onusta


then there are the little skimmers with the spotted wingsdragonfly crop

I will try to get some positive  ID on the bees.. Bugguide is my friend!

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Blogger Suz said... be there a bee that is very tiney and whose wings move so fast that he looks like a hmmingbird bee? Maybe like the on in your photo...I saw one today in the hovered and zing he was gone

8 May 2010 at 01:19  
Blogger Helen said...

This post positively buzzes with life, Val. Glad to see you so sweet on carpenters – I'm constantly trying to reeducate people about these fellows.

8 May 2010 at 03:16  
Blogger Lisa said...

Splendid photographs. Don't apologize for them!

(I did my first big hive inspection, and took a lot of photos, which are at my blog.)

Love the bees!

8 May 2010 at 05:18  
Blogger Steve Asbell said...

It must be so exciting to know all the names of bees. We got a lot of winter damage up here, but even some of the neighbor's plumerias are showing signs of recovering.

8 May 2010 at 17:40  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

Suz: I had to laugh! I am only a bee beginner really. I have quite a job just seeing them in the first place and have to do hours of research before I can be sure what things are. Bugguide is really excellent and will ID photos if you can get a reasonable one! It takes me hours!

Helen: I am such a fan of the carpenters, they are really gentle and so easy to watch. These green eyed ones are beautiful, but so much on the internet is about how to kill them! It's awful really.

Lisa and Rob: you are so kind!How exciting to do the hive inspection! I 'll be over to you very soon.

RG: Thank you so much, lovely to hear from you. As you say on your blog things are beginning to come round now with a few more flowers for the bees. The damage at Leu is so sad though.. some people were even asking for their money back .. all $7 of it! cheap skates!its was bad in parts but there are still 5 acres of other lovely things!

10 May 2010 at 00:15  

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