Posts Tagged: honey bee
Like a crab, the crab spider can move sideways and backwards as it stalks and ambushes its prey. It grabs the unsuspecting insect with its powerful front legs, bites it, and paralyzes it.
Dinner is served.
However, this particular spider seemed to be perusing a menu. Hmm, a blow fly, a hover fly, a sweat bee or a honey bee? It watched honey bees glide onto the sedum and sip nectar. It was touch-and-go; the spider would crawl to a bee, touch it, and the bee would buzz off.
"It must not have been hungry--otherwise the bee would have been toast," Kimsey said.
We watched the spider for half an hour. The predator and the prey.
This time the prey won. Every single bee escaped. No toast today.
Spider and the Bee
Over and Out
It's not the prettiest of plants.
It looks somewhat like a thistle.
No matter. The honey bees love it.
Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia), a leggy three-foot plant with clusters of light blue to purple flowers, attracts not only honey bees but syrphid flies, bumbles bees and other pollinators.
Some folks call it "the honey plant" because it's considered one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers.
Native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, it's an annual that's used as a cover crop and as bee forage. It's especially popular in Europe and in California vineyards.
The Xerces Society recommends that it be planted in the almond orchards to attract pollinators after the almonds finish blooming. The Xerces Society recommends that it be planted along access roads and roadways as a nesting habitat and source of nectar and pollen for early emerging bees.
We planted some in our bee friendly garden to see what it would attract. Last Sunday one of the first insects it drew was an aged honey bee, her thorax worn of hair and her wings ragged.
The slow-moving bee foraged among the delicate blossoms. Indeed, the soft breeze moved faster than she did.
Then, lift off and she was gone.
Up, Up and Away
Talk about pollen power.
When honey bees forage among the bird’s eyes, they're a delight to see. They dive into the yellow-throated lavender flowers and emerge covered with a blue-gray pollen.
Bird’s eyes (Gilia tricolor) is a native California wildflower common in the Central Valley and surrounding mountain ranges and foothills.
If you look behind the Sciences Laboratory Building (near Briggs Hall) on the University of California, Davis campus, you'll see a thriving wildflower patch filled with bird's eyes, tidy tips, rock purslane, salvia and desert bluebells.
You'll see honey bees, hover flies, lady bugs and carpenter bees.
It's a bird's eye view for the bees. Or maybe a bee's eye view.
Covered with Pollen
It probably wasn't colony collapse disorder.
Probably not pesticides, a disease, malnutrition or stress, either.
It could have been a pest.
When we were walking through the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden at the UC Davis Arboretum last weekend, we spotted the still body of a honey bee on a white calla lily (Zantedeschia aethipica), a native of South Africa.
It seemed so incongruous. It was spring in the garden. Worker bees at the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis are bustling out of their hives, collecting nectar and pollen for their expanding colonies.
Worker bees live only four to six weeks during the busy season. But this isn't the busy season.
"What happened to the bee?" someone inquired, after seeing the photo. "How did she die?"
"Don't know," I said. It probably wasn't pesticides, though. The garden is pesticide-free.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, speculated that a spider hiding inside the blossom may have killed the bee and then sucked its blood.
"Spiders do that--they lurk inside the blossoms," he said.
Another pest of the beleagered honey bee.
Death by a Spider?
Take a close look.
What's wrong with the first photo posted below this blog?
If you're a beekeeper or someone who's been around bees, you'll know immediately.
If not, you may look at the photo and say "Hmm, a honey bee. Yep, it's a honey bee, all right. It's on a what...nectarine blossom?"
Yes, it's a honey bee. Yes, it's on a nectarine blossom. But if you look at the huge eyes and the stout body, you'll know it doesn't belong on the blossom. It's a drone (male) and drones don't forage.
They have one responsibility and that's to mate with the queen. A virgin queen, on her maiden flight, leaves the hive and mates in the air with 12 to 25 males waiting for her in the drone congregation area.
After mating, the drones immediately fall to the ground and die. "They die happy," says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Meanwhile, the queen bee returns to her hive and spends the rest of her life laying eggs. She's a veritable egg-laying machine. During the peak season, she'll lay about 2000 eggs a day. She will not mate again. She has enough stored sperm to last the rest of her life, which is usually one to two years.
UC Davis bee scientists got a kick out of the drone on the nectarine blossom. (If you watched the Jerry Seinfeld movie, "The Bee Movie," you probably heard Seinfeld erroneously referring to his fellow male bees as "pollen jocks." He also said males have stingers--they don't.)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, said the photo would make "A great quiz material for beekeeping and pollination courses."
However, the best comment about the photo came from UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis:
"Silly drone--he has one function and that is not it!"