Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Two bees for Martina and Julia

 The above picture is the Mason bee nest I referred to in the bee post. Pretty interesting critters. They are solitary. When they find a hole that suits them they go in and lay an egg. Then they fill the little room with pollen and nectar. Then they put up a wall of bee concrete and lay another egg, until the tube is full. They are crafty enough to lay all female eggs until the last chamber, where they lay a male egg. The male hatches, eats his lunch and chews his way out. Then he hangs around until females start to hatch and mates. Because there are a lot of females from different tubes hatching at the same time, and a lot of males flying around, inbreeding doesn't seem to be a problem. They are tireless pollinators and do not sting. Before European honeybees were introduced they were one of the alpha pollinators in North America.

This is what the Carpenter  (Xylocopa Viginica) bees are doing to our dock. They are very big, like a bumblebee, with much less hair. They build a nest by chewing into unpainted wood and dead branches. The males vigorously defend the nests by hovering near them. Mainly to chase off other insects as they have no sting. They have a yellow dot in the middle of their forehead. When I walk out on our dock, in the warm months, there will be one or two males the get right at eye level and hover. If you call their bluff, they fly off. Luckily, they are another tireless pollinator, so we pretty much leave them alone.