Thursday, October 7, 2010

Busy bees

I've posted images of bees before. They are such industrious creatures but this bumblebee struck me as being particularly busy. It carefully covered each of the asters in this bunch then moved on to the next batch of flowers, often sharing the blossoms or the bunches with honey bees, flies that I didn't recognize, ants and many other insects. It's obviously harvest time for all the earth's creatures, not only the human kind.

I also discovered one of the hazards of being an insect, even a bee with its defenses and strength. Walking with the dogs along a hedgerow in one of the nearby fields, I often spend time looking at the flowers and other vegetation that line farmed fields. One warm afternoon there were tons of honey bees and other little bee-like creatures marauding a huge stretch of asters similar to those in the image I've shown today.

At one point, I heard a frantic and furious buzzing and bent down to look closely at where the noise was coming from assuming I'd find a large bee or a bunch  - even a small hive. Instead I found one lone honeybee furiously buzzing, hanging upside down in mid-air, caught by barely visible spider web threads... I moved my hand through the restraining strand - there seemed to be only one. The bee was miraculously released and immediately flew away - but only about a foot from where it had been imprisoned.

Then I watched in fascination while it sat on the hard seed pod of a centaurea (another beautiful fuscia-coloured flowers when its blooming). The bee began to clean itself of the remaining stickly web.

I saw it brush its head thoroughly with one front leg, the other front leg then brushing what it had removed into a clump, both legs working just like we use our arms and hands. Each time it got a lump of web, it stuck it onto its pollen sacks on its hind legs. It's long tongue or proboscis kept moving in and out as it appeared to lick its legs to clean them of the web bits and help them move more easily into a clump or maybe it was binding them. It certainly looked as if it was giving itself a bath or drying itself off as dogs and cats and other mammals lick themselves clean and dry.

I've never seen such actions on the part of an insect before. It kept at it, sitting in the sun, going over its whole body, wiping and sticking whatever it wiped off, into a pouch.

Mother Earth's creatures never cease to amaze and fascinate me but this was an exceptional five or ten minutes that I won't soon forget. I hope you get the chance to be completely absorbed in something equally  interesting today or any day.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the beauties of nature and the mysteries of the wild. So many, so little time. Sounds like a glorious ten minutes. Thanks for sharing.