I watched this small bee as it circled round the flower, busily filling its already bulging bright yellow saddlebags. We are fond of these little bees, which were introduced to the UK (or perhaps simply spread here) quite recently and have made themselves at home. They are one of two bee species that have chosen to live inside our house.
The location varies from year to year, but for about 3 months a year over the last few years there has been gentle bee-chatter going on in the roof-space above our bedroom, or in an old wall cavity between 2 rooms.
This year the tree bees decamped to the roof-space above the kitchen; and a splinter colony has recently set up a buzzing plant-produce stall in a cavity above the front porch, no doubt to the surprise of the bats that hang out there.
You may have noticed that the bee featured here is carrying a tiny passenger, a mite, that you can see in some of the images (eg the header image). There’s a small story about these photos. I own ‘beloved camera’, ‘unreliable camera’, ‘snappy camera’ and an iPhone. **
When I first saw this little bee, I had ‘unreliable’ with me (‘beloved’ being 125 miles away). It is a martyr to light sensitivity, with an annoying ‘satirical’ take on focus. Reader, I rattled off 20 shots. Then I deleted every one of them. Quickly throwing the camera behind a wall in disgrace, I reached for my phone in desperation to catch the bee at work in the sunshine. Here are the results, with a level of clarity that only ‘beloved camera’ could have matched.
** There was ‘hated camera’ too, a DSLR that I never mastered and eventually sold back to the place I bought it for a fraction of the original cost. They saw me coming…
All photos © Keith Salvesen Photography
The bees are working overtime as a chill spreads over September and winter downtime looms for them. So busy are they that there is competition for individual flowers – even though there are more than enough to go round. Bumbles were out in force yesterday, and there are still butterflies around, mainly tiny Small Coppers and Whites of different sizes.
We’ve done a quick assessment of plant popularity this spring and summer that produces this league table:
- Hyssop – the runaway winner for bees of many types, ditto butterflies and (new entry) moths. Planted for the first time in May, and has effortlessly thrived (throve? thriven?) to become Nectar Central.
- Lavender – perennial success with bees and butterflies. More planted this spring and very well visited.
- Cosmos – new to the garden this year, a fast and easy grower, and hugely popular with bees, especially bumbles. Also visited by honey bees and butterflies, but only on their way the the hyssop.
Blurry, I know, but the intruder arrived from nowhere as I pressed the button… Why it didn’t land on one of several vacant flowers next to this one, I have no idea. Maybe fighting drunk on pollen?
NOW YOU SEE IT… …NOW YOU DON’T
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH A CANTERBURY BELL
IF THE CAP FITS…
WHAT ARE THESE ‘HOVER-WASP’ GUYS CALLED? I only noticed the gleaming gold thorax after downloading the photos
WILD BEES IN A WOODPECKER NEST BOX, ABACO, BAHAMAS
This year we had West Indian Woodpeckers using 2 nest boxes under the eaves.This successfully diverts them from drilling into the woodwork of the building. They raised two families this season, with 3 chicks fledging each time. Another nest box on a tree in the drive was not to their liking, and was quickly colonised by wild bees. The nearest small apiary – there are only two I know of on an island 120 miles long – is 15 miles away. These bees will never have known the luxury of a hive. I doubt they’d need or want it…
I photographed this sunset from our garden in Dorset a couple of evenings ago. In reality it was more dark pink than red, but by simply zooming directly at it the colour was altered dramatically. The second image is a simple crop of another photo taken seconds later, as the banding became clearer as the sun sunk below the horizon. It looks more like a planet. [NB No P/shop]