Posts Tagged: honey bee
It's a blue day for the honey bees.
The massive Northern California storm--one of our worst-ever storms and marked by heavy rains and equally strong winds--means that bees are clustering inside their hives.
No foraging today.
Just last Sunday we saw honey bees nectaring blue marguerite daisy (Felicia amelloides), a colorful member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). A native of South Africa, the marguerite daisy blooms through October.
This bee was quite old (notice the lack of hair on her thorax).
Today she's inside.
Out of the rain.
Blue Marguerite Daisy
Summer is fading and the temperatures are dropping, too.
You're more likely to see Vanessa.
That would be Vanessa annabella, one of the Painted Lady butterflies.
The West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella), is seen more often in cool seasons, says UC Davis butterfly expert, Arthur Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolution.
The West Coast Lady is a member of the Brush-Footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae) and the subfamily, True Brushfoots.
On a recent trip to Tomales, we spotted the West Coast Lady and a honey bee sharing the same plant, a Salvia uliginosa (a tall sage that can reach six to seven feet).
The wings of the orange-brown butterfly and the transparent wings of the honey bee glowed in the sunlight as the insects nectared the sky-blue blossoms. The two have at least one thing in common: they love a good sage.
Shapiro, a lepidopterist extraordinaire, covers more than 130 species in his colorful book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, published by the University of California Press. The guide also offers tips on gardening and photography.
West Coast Lady and a Bee
Aware of Each Other
The honey bee nectaring the Penstemon, aka Beardtongue, in Tomales, Calif., didn't seem to mind my presence.
The amber-colored bee was foraging among the purple two-lipped flowers. The plant derives its name from what appears to be a "tongue" (staminode) poking from the "mouth" of the blossom.
It's an attractive flower--indeed, humans hold Penstemon festivals in Flagstaff, Ariz. and Holden, Utah--and the bees like it, too.
The little Marin County honey bee glanced at me and then began cleaning her tongue. Or, as emeritus professor and pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp of the University of California, Davis, said of the photo below: "Caught in the act of cleaning her tongue with the brushes of hairs on the inner sides of her forelegs."
"Even worker bees take time to groom," he said. "Vanity or just good maintenance?"
We like to think she was primping for the photo shoot.
Bee tongue and the Beardtongue.
Cleaning Her Tongue
If there's one plant in our yard that the honey bees don't like, it's the begonia.
Lavender, sage, catmint and sedum? Bring 'em on.
Sunflowers, citrus and pomegranate? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Rock purslane? Like rock candy.
Oh, how about a little begonia, Ms. Honey Bee?
Sorry, not interested.
So were we ever surprised last weekend to see a honey bee foraging on our pink begonia.
See, the begonia isn't exactly a bee friendly plant. It's not like the dearly beloved sage, lavender and catmint.
We told Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a noted authority on honey bees and bee behavior--and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty--of the bee-begonia encounter. "Bet she didn't come back," he said.
"Actually, she foraged for about five minutes," I said.
I imagine, though, that when our confused little bee returned to the hive, her sisters met her at the hive entrance and said (in bee language): "You collected WHAT? You foraged in the BEGONIAS? When there was LAVENDER, SAGE AND CATMINT?"
Update: No bees have returned to the begonias.
Probably won't, either.
Honey Bee and Begonia
Foraging on Begonia
No, it's not a rock band or a new dance move or a new Billboard hit.
It's the name of a worldwide bee organization.
The 41st World Apiculture Congress is meeting this week through Sunday, Sept. 20 in Montepellier, France, and the buzz is all about what's killing the honey bees.
Some 10,000 entomologists and beekeepers are attending the conference and they're worried--and rightfully so.
As Emmanuel Angleys wrote in an article published today: "The Western honey bee is a vital link in the food chain, fertilizing nearly 100 kinds of crops."
"Around a third of the food on our plates gets there thanks to Apis mellifera."
Fact is, we still haven't found what's causing colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady characterized by bees abandoning the hive. Pesticides? Pests? Viruses? Malnutrition? Stress? Drought and other global weather changes?
CCD could very well be a combination of factors. When bees are sick, they simply don't function well.
Just like us. We don't function well when we're sick, either.
And then there are the ribosomes. The damaged ribosomes.
University of Illinois researchers recently found that bees from CCD hives had high levels of damaged ribosomes (think of ribosomes as protein-making machines within the cells).
We like researcher May Berenbaum's comment: "If your ribosome is compromised, then you can't respond to pesticides, you can't respond to fungal infections or bacteria or inadequate nutrition because the ribosome is central to the survival organism."
Ribosome. Compromised. Central to the survival organism.
It's all about bee-ing there for the bees. We need more researchers like Berenbaum./span>
Honey Bee on Dwarf Tangerine Bulbine