Blue bees, blue flowers, Autumnal amour and old man fly

A very distinct kind of buzz has been calling my attention to the rosemary bush in our front yard. All summer it has been visited by the occasional Blue-banded Bee Amegilla cingulata, but at present there are usually half a dozen of them feeding on the flowers. I’ve read that these bees use a high frequency buzz of their wings to shake pollen from flowers and this seems consistent with their distinctive pitch. Apparently these ground nesting bees also have a particular liking for blue flowers, which explains why I’ve most often seen them on lavender and rosemary as well as our Flax Lilies. Until now, I’ve found them quite wary, but in the last few days they seem very tolerant.
Blue-banded Bee

Blue-banded Bee I

Blue-banded Bee

Blue-banded Bee II

I’ve also been surprised to find quite a bit of Autumnal mating activity amongst the Tricolor Soldier Beetles Chauliognathus tricolor that are abundant in the yard now and wonder if that is unusual.

Tricolor Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus tricolor)

Tricolor Soldier Beetle

We’ve also had a modest second flowering of the fabulous Shiny Everlastings and they seem to be attracting large numbers of small and slow-moving mosquito-like insects. Thanks to the generosity of Flickr contributors, I now know that these are Slender Bee Flies of the genus Geron. These are important pollinators and as adults rely on nectar and pollen for nutrition. Their larvae however live on the eggs and larvae of other insect species and the female Bee Fly will lay her eggs in the nests of the hosts. And I thought it sweet that these delicate and often gracefully hovering “mosquitoes” were leaving me alone. The genus name apparently derives from the Greek word for old man due to their hunched appearance.

Slender Bee Fly

Slender Bee Fly I

Slender Bee Fly (Geron sp.)

Slender Bee Fly II

4 responses to “Blue bees, blue flowers, Autumnal amour and old man fly

  1. Thank you Patrick for another fascinating post. The bee photographs are both informative and attractive. You open up my eyes to the micro world in nature. I have learned a lot.

  2. Hi Patrick. Lots of Blue-banded bees at Ashbourne too – it’s been a good year for them. I love your macro shots – what lens do you use? I didn’t know about the Geron flies – must watch out for them. Many thanks for the post.

  3. Helen Schofield

    Fantastically sharp detail in photos. Thank you for sharing

  4. Patrick Kavanagh

    Thanks all. Ian, for this I used a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro (non IS). The closeup of the Slender Bee Fly was taken with the fabulous Canon MP-E65 at about 2x

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