Saturday, July 31, 2010

Caught a pic of the bee

kw: photographs, wildlife, insects

My sunflowers don't follow the sun. I have been collecting bee data for the Great Sunflower Project this summer. The first four flowers produced by my plants have all faced East, so that they are backlit by the sun in the afternoon when I can do my data gathering. I've wanted to photograph the variety of small bee that is the most frequent visitor, but I couldn't get a good picture until today.

A flower opened a couple days ago on the West side of a plant, and I have been able to take usable photographs. I think this is a variety of mason bee, but I'm not sure yet. It is smaller (less than half the weight) than a honey bee, about the size of a sweat bee or even smaller, but not as small as the tiny all-green bees that show up on occasion.

Visible at the top of the image is some damage to the flower's seed head. Goldfinches have been eating the immature seeds. That is OK. I have seldom had a chance to observe goldfinches before. Another side benefit to growing sunflowers is that they draw the occasional hummingbird. Even though this variety, Lemon Queen, has no nectar, it is big, bright and bold, so hummingbirds will come, buzz the flower for no more than a second, then zoom away.

I have observed mostly this kind of green-and-striped bee and bumble bees at my sunflowers, plus a few of the tiny green ones, and just two (so far) very small bees that are colored like a honey bee. Not a single honey bee as yet. In fact, I've looked for bees in lots of places this Spring and Summer, and have seen no more than three honey bees all season.

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