Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pollinator Week 2019

Mason Bee Series 1-3
I thought I'd celebrate Pollinator Week by posting images of some of the native pollinators that I photograph and explain why they are so good at pollination. One cool morning I was shooting this Mason Bee, a male of Megachile (Chalicodoma) parietina. A really photogenic little fellow, and I took a lot of photos. When it got close to lunch time I set this little guy down on a flower hoping that he would get something to eat as well. Not only did the little one hit the buffet, but this next shot illustrated why they are so good at pollinating flowers: Mason Bee IV

Now that's one messy eater! In the process of getting nectar he also picked up, and distributed, a lot of pollen.

Mason Bee Series 4-1

Social bees like honeybees and bumblebees have a grove on their hind leg called a pollen basket. They pack pollen into it and wet it down with nectar, and that pollen isn't going anywhere except back to the colony. Check out the saddle bags on this Common Carder bee (a type of social bee).

Bees in a Wallflower Series 1-2

Now granted that Common Carder will spread pollen, but not as well as a solitary bee because solitaries don't have a pollen basket. Female solitary bees collect pollen in hairs on their abdomen, and they wallow in a flower to get the pollen to stick to that hair. So in the process of collecting pollen they also spread a lot of it around. They'll also visit more flowers in a day than a honeybee will. We have a small garden in our back yard that produces so many vegetables that we have to give some of them away, and it's all due to the number of solitary bees in our yard. I also raise Mason Bees and they are a lot of fun to watch and photograph. Here's a female Red Mason about to start her day.

New Apartment II

Mason Bees are so docile they can be handled without getting stung. I found this female a little waterlogged from a spring rain and I put her back in my bee house after take a few shots -or is it really her bee house ;)

Female Red Mason Bee

If you want to help the native bees in your area then plant native flowers in your yard. If you want to raise your own mason bees Crown Bees has everything you need, including how to videos to get you started (and their customer service is excellent!). I'm not affiliated with them in any way, and this is not a paid post. Gotta put that disclaimer in because a lot of what you read on the web is just an advertisement in disguise...

Until next time folks, happy shooting!

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