Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Blue-banded Bees

Now that I have posted about the birds, let me talk about the bees!! One of my favourite bees in the garden is the blue-banded bee. They are really tiny, about 7-15mm average and make a sound that sounds louder than most bees. Also they are hard to photograph because they are constantly moving, and never still.

The blue-banded bees are native to Australia but their close relations can be found throughout the Asia-Pacific region. They are members of the genus Amegilla. the most conspicuous thing about them is the pale blue or bright blue bands on a mainly black abdomen. Females have four bands, and males, five. These bees are buzz pollinators. They use a special technique to get pollen from flowers. They hold on to the flower and vibrate with a loud buzzing sound. The vibration causes the flower to drop the pollen on the bees' bodies. Despite the sounds they make they are not at all aggressive and will sting only if threatened.

One unique thing about these bees that I've noticed is that they cluster at night by clinging to twigs or stems. Looking up online I learnt that the males cluster on twigs but the females build nests in shallow burrows in the ground or in the soft mortar of houses. I happened to be photographing a pretty dragonfly yesterday when I noticed this bee getting ready to call it a day. Even here it was not still.

 Another bee comes to rest on the same twig. That electric blue is no longer prominent now that the wings are closed.
The cluster forms...All these images of garden wildlife has taught me a n important lesson in watering. Years ago, during hot summer evenings, I used to splash water on my plants at night too. Now I know better. How many moths, butterflies, lizards, and bees I must have disturbed then. I didn't really think about garden wildlife then, the way I do now. 
All quiet now...maybe the cluster grew larger after this shot. But I knew I had to leave them catching up on their much-needed beauty sleep:) for first light will see them heading for their immediate neighbour...the coleus in full bloom.


One said...

This is interesting!!! I have this bee in my garden too and you are right. It's very hard to capture their photos. You have done an amazing job of capturing a cluster of them. I've never seen so many at one go.

Sylvia K said...

What amazing captures! Thanks for the interesting post as well! I always enjoy your posts/photos! Hope your week is going well!


Ginny said...

This is extraordinary!!!! We have nothing like this here. So beautiful and unusual. And I love the way you have captured them gathering to sleep. I have never heard of buzz pollinating, I have seen and learned so much here, all in just a few minutes!!! This is for sure one of my favorite posts of yours, maybe my favorite. I think you posted a blue banded before, but not this many pictures, and not with all this interesting info. Your yard must be like a fairy tale kingdom!!

Anita Kumar said...

These bees are very pretty indeed.