So you're poking around in your garden and you see a bee on a flowering artichoke that you've never seen foraging there before.
On sunflowers, yes. On artichokes, no.
A closer look--and huge green eyes stare back at you.
Definitely not a honey bee (Apis mellifera), although its size is comparable.
This one (below) was a male long-horned sunflower bee (Svastra obliqua expurgata) as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and one of the instructors in The Bee Course, an annual workshop that takes place at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz.
"Most males (Svastra obliqua expurgata) are more gray-eyed," he noted. "Maybe since your subject is so fresh, the eyes look more greenish."
This particular long-horned sunflower bee, tucked inside the flowering artichoke, wasn't moving. Next to it was a very dead honey bee with a hollowed-out abdomen. And next to the honey bee was a very much alive (and well-fed?) spider.
I gingerly positioned my green-eyed friend on a paper napkin for a quick catch-and-release photograph on the patio table. Indeed it was quick. A strong gust lifted both the napkin and the bee off the table. He buzzed away, the wind beneath his wings, as Bette Midler would say.
Spider didn't get him this time.
Long-horned sunflower bee tucked in a flowering artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male long-horned sunflower bee (Svastra obliqua expurgata) before he buzzed off. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)