Of bees, blue flowers and blues

Lots on native bees around at the moment. And amongst the things native bees like, blue is right up there. A lot of our insect pollinators have a particular penchant for blue flowers.

Black-anther Flax-lilies (Dianella admixta) are in full flower at present, their drooping blooms visited by various bees including Lipotriches, a bee of the Halictid family.

Lipotriches bee

Lipotriches bee visiting Black-anther Flax-lily

Another species of Halictid bee in good numbers at present is the Parasphecodes sub-genus of Lassioglossum. These are much smaller bees, about 3mm long compared to the 5-6 mm of Lipotriches. They were very quick in visiting the Flax-lily plants, but were much more inclined to stay put on Digger’s Speedwell Veronica perfoliata flowers and hence easier to photograph. On the Speedwell flowers, they bury themselves entirely in the cup formed but the flowers and rummage around vigorously.

Lasioglossum bee

Parasphecodes on Digger’s Speedwell

Although there were many of these tiny bees on the Speedwell flowers, this one particular bee was very set on this one flower. As was another even smaller bee (I couldn’t get a clear enough shot to guess at the type) which kept trying to muscle in on the action before being forcefully ejected by the Parasphecodes bee.

Lasioglossum bee sends a smaller bee packing

The battle of the bees.

Halictid bees are also called sweat bees as they delight in drinking the sweat of humans. This one was very happy to sit on my warm hand for a taste.

Sweat Bee

Sweat bee getting some salt.

Of course, whilst they like blue, our local bees are pretty keen on yellow flowers too. A different Lasioglossum species shows what good pollinators they are, delving into a Shiny Everlasting Xerochrysum viscosum.

Lasioglossum bee

Lasioglossum

Often mistaken for native bees, but no less beautiful or important are hoverflies. Being flies – the order nameof flies, Diptera, means two wings – their second pair of wings has morphed into tiny club-like appendages that give the insect important information for exquisite flight control. This modified wing can be seen below the wing just a little way along from the wing root in these photos.

Hoverfly

Hoverfly

I often find hoverflies with dented compound eyes, presumably from some collision. It never seems to impair their skills at navigating.

Hoverfly

Not daunted by dented optics

Longicorn Beetles are also around. The name relates to their distinctive long antennae.

Longicorn Beetle

Longicorn Beetle

Close-up, they would seem to be ideal for a role in science fiction.

Longicorn Beetle

Face-to-face

 

 

3 responses to “Of bees, blue flowers and blues

  1. Very interesting as always. Their small size makes me wonder what has been the impact of the relatively huge and ubiquitous honey bee on pollination of native plants. Should we think of the honey bee somewhat as we think of rabbits?

  2. A great study on some native bees Patrick, well photographed. Thank you.
    In my opinion Bruce Munday, yes they should but I think they are a class above rabbits ( and many other ferals) in that they give us a brilliant service in return! Probably one we can’t do without.

  3. We don’t hear enough about native bees. Love the detail – thanks

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