Thursday, July 26, 2012

Drinks,sunbathing,drinks,sunbathing - nice work if you can get it ...

One of the wonders of blogging is that every now and then someone publishes a post that's totally inspirational - and that's the only way to describe this item on bee behaviour, posted by Africa Gomez on her Bugblog.

I've spent a lot of time recently just sitting in the sun (at last) and watching the insects in the garden, and Africa's description of leafcutter bee behaviour - bouts of foraging, interspersed with settling in sunny exposed places for a bit of grooming - perfectly describes this individual, that seems to have taken ownership of a large meadow crane'sbill plant that's growing in our garden.

It has a distinctive technique for reaching the nectaries at the base of the petals, by clasping the central column of stamens with its legs. Meadow crane'sbill flowers go through a well-defined developmental sequence when they open. First the stamens mature and release pollen, as they are in the flower above ....

... then they bend outwards and the tip of the stigma, on its long style, splits into this five-lobbed 'grappling hook' conformation, reading to receive pollen from incoming bees. This visitor must have been doing a very efficient pollination job with its constant visits.

In between its bouts of activity it took time out for some grooming and sunbathing on an old black dustbin that we use as a temporary water butt, that also probably acts as a fine absorber and radiator of heat, and for most of the day is probably the warmest object in the garden.

Incidentally, check out Africa's wonderful photos of leaf cutter bees cutting out leaf sections and carrying them away. 


  1. I am glad you liked my post Phil and thank you for the links. Sorry I didn't reply earlier, I have been away for a couple of weeks and have hundreds of posts and e-mails to go through. I love how well you understand flowers, it really helps also understand the bee behaviour. There you have him, a lovely Megachile willughbiella male on one of his favourite flowers!

  2. Hi Africa, I've always been fascinated by pollination ecology .... it's science you can do while sitting in the garden with a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon .....!