30 Days Wild – Day 16

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_16Day 16 of 30 Days Wild and I didn’t really have any idea of what I was going to do today. But as I got home from work a thunder storm started and I thought great, I can do a mean and moody storm post. The thunder was rumbling and the rain was pelting down, as I dashed about the house grabbing camera and sound recorder. Of course being the fickle thing that British weather is, it all stopped pretty much the second I stepped out the back door. The sun even came out, ruining my mean and moody plans!

So I decided to switch to Plan B and photograph my little area of “meadow” that I’d planted earlier this year. Although it was now sunny all the plants were of course looking soggy and a bit limp. I was struck though at how quickly the bees reappeared once the rain had stopped. Within minutes the soggy flowers were buzzing again with all manner of bees. Most of the bees looked dry and fluffy, like a bee should. They must have been sheltering somewhere during the downpour. But if there was a wet bee contest, I think this poor mite would win hands down. I couldn’t even tell what species it was, he was so bedraggled. Don’t know why he hadn’t had the sense to find shelter like the rest of them, but his bad hair day didn’t seem to stop him getting the nectar!

Bedraggled bee

Feeling inspired by the bees (both wet and dry) I thought I’d move on to Plan C – lots of nice bee shots after the rain. Again the weather intervened and it started drizzling – not enough for my moody storm post but enough to spoil any bee photography. Feeling in a bee kind of mind now though, I decided to check on my bee species tally for the year. I realised we’d now recorded 21 species of bee in the garden this year already. I’d blogged about bees previously when we’d reached 12 species, but hadn’t done an update since. So Plan D – today’s post is really an update on the remaining 9 species of bee from our garden to date. Should anyone want to read the original post on bees 1 to 12, you can find it here: https://toolazytoweed.uk/2016/04/13/bumblebee-bonanza/

So bee No. 13 was Gooden’s Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana). This striking looking bee actually looks more like a wasp with its black and yellow abdomen. All the Nomada bees are parasitic on other bee species – they lay eggs in the hosts nest and their grubs then destroy the host’s eggs and eat the food. So not quite the adorable image of a classic bee!

Nomada goodeniana

Next up bee No. 14 is the Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis). This one nests in pre-existing holes in walls, old wood, stems etc. and is supposedly a common one to make use of “bee hotels” – I’m not aware any having made use of ours though. They use wet mud to create cells for their grubs in these holes, which is presumably why they’re called Mason bees.

Red Mason Bee

No 15. is a Blood Bee of the genus Sphecodes. I think they are so named because of the blood red abdomen, rather than any gruesome blood sucking habits. Having said that they are also parasitic, but I guess no-one is perfect! There are apparently lots of species of Sphecodes and they are not only very small, but very difficult to identify to species level just from a photo, so I can’t pinpoint the exact one without capturing it,

Sphecodes female poss monilicornis

Bee No. 16 is the Orange Tailed Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa). You can just about see the orange hairs at the end of its abdomen in the photo. We had a lot of these in the garden, burrowing into the dry ground around the strawberries.

Andrena haemorrhoa female

Bee No. 17 is the Common Mourning Bee (Melecta albifrons). This medium sized dark bee (I think they’re called mourning bees because they’re mainly black) is yet another parasitic one. We had quite a few feeding on the rosemary. You can’t really tell from the photo, but one of its identifying features is its white knees!

Mourning Bee

Bee No. 18 is the Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea). I love the fact that someone decided to call it Buffish rather than just Buff! I only saw this species once and fortunately happened to have the camera with me at the time. This species mainly nests in bare ground, although it will sometimes nest in soft mortar in walls – I hope this isn’t a sign that our garage wall here is crumbling!

Andrena nigroaenea

Bee No. 19 is the Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum). This is a social bumblebee nesting in small colonies – at last a bee on this list that fits my “adorable bee” stereotype! These are particularly common in the garden right now.

Garden Bumblebee

Bee No. 20 is Barbut’s Cuckoo Bee (Bombus barbutellus). This one looks very much like the Garden Bumblebee above and for a good reason – it is a social parasite of the poor Garden Bumblebee – laying its eggs in the nest and allowing the host to feed and raise its grubs – real cuckoo behaviour!

Barbut's Cuckoo Bee (3)

And finally Bee No. 21 the Patchwork Leafcutter Bee (Megachile centuncularis). We spotted this one during the Garden Bioblitz a couple of weeks ago. It was flying under a plastic awning carrying a piece of leaf.

CJL_5302

Not easy to get a good photo like that so we caught it (I feel guilty we made him drop his leaf!) to get a better one. Unfortunately as soon as we opened the pot it flew off, so this was the best we could do. You can at least see the thick orange pollen brushes on its abdomen.

Megachile centuncularis

So those are the nine bees which, with those in the earlier post,  make up the full 21 species from the garden. I must admit I am really pleased that our little garden has attracted so many species. There may well be more – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few others, but either not been able to get a photo, or they’ve been too difficult to ID without dissection (which I don’t want to do). Just goes to show what providing a variety of habitats and nectar sources can do for your bee biodiversity!

Pendulous sedge 30 WEEDSAnd finally as always the latest weed from our garden for 30 Days Wild – Pendulous Sedge. This weed would seriously take over the garden if we let it. It forms large dense stands that are pretty much impenetrable. We’ve actually ended up using this to our advantage – using it almost like a hedge to separate areas of the garden. One group of animals that seem to love it are the snails. On a rainy night the Pendulous Sedge is full of snails (it’s probably full of them all the time, but they climb up and are more visible on a rainy night). I couldn’t resist posting this close-up of one of the snails looking like he was swinging on the sedge!

Snail on sedge

 

 

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