Posts Tagged: Bodega Bay
If you're on your way to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, stop at Bodega Head and see all the yellow-faced bumble bees on a yellow coastal plant, Eriophyllum, commonly known as the woolly sunflower.
The bumble bees, Bombus vosnesenskii, are back and they particularly like the Eriophyllum. It's probably Eriophyllum staechadifolium, agreed Ellen Dean, curator of the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity, and Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture at the UC Davis Arboretum.
According to Calflora, it's also called lizard tail andseaside golden yarrow as well as seaside woolly sunflower.
We spotted a huge orange pollen load on one yellow-faced bumble bee. Saddle bags!
Bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski, on woolly sunflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bumble bee, vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This yellow-faced bumble bee is packing red pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
But there's one thing they don't do. They don't check out the sand dunes, home of the bee villages.
Tiny holes are everywhere, yet nobody seems to notice.
They're the work of digger bees, aka faux bumble bees. These are Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, researched by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.
"The (female) bees suck up water nearby and then regurgitate on the (faces of the) sandstone cliffs to moisten and excavate soil for the tunnels, construct their turrets, and finally to seal the nest tunnel," Thorp says. The bees use some of the soil from the base of the turret to plug the entrance.
The bee turrets are somewhat like our gated communities! Keep out!
The digger bees have "grocery stores" all around them. You'll see the males and females foraging on the wildflowers, which include yellow and blue lupine, California golden poppies, wild radish, mustard, dandelions, and seaside daises.
If you crouch next to the bee villages, a nearby hiker is likely to ask "Lose something?"
No, we found something!
A female digger bee finishes her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A digger bee scouts the landscape. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Flying low, flying fast. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sandy cliffs of Bodega Head hold bee villages. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The last honey bee of 2012.
Despite the cold weather at Bodega Bay last Friday, we managed to see a few honey bees nectaring a New Zealand tea tree, aka Leptospermum scoparium.
The temperature registered 53 degrees and there they were, foraging among the dainty pink and white blossoms, as if it were spring.
As the year draws to a close, we've been inundated with words like "fiscal cliff," "spoiler alert," "bucket list" and "YOLO." (No, Yolo doesn't mean Yolo County but "You Only Live Once.")
Let's hope those words don't apply to honey bees in 2013 and the years beyond.
They can fool you.
Just like replica designer bags, shoes and sunglasses meant to look like the real thing (think Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Prada), those digger bees on Bodega Head, overlooking Bodega Bay, look like bumble bees.
Especially the females.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, calls them "faux bumble bees."
They're Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana. "The females are the ones that build the neat turrets in front of their nests on the cliff faces," Thorp says. "The females are even better mimics of bumble bees and they do not sting!"
So, if you're visiting Bodega Head to watch the whales, the waves, the birds or the boats, be sure to check out the sand cliffs for the bee villages.
If you want to capture their images, you'll want to lie flat and motionless on the ground, position your trigger finger, and frame them flying in and out of their turrets.
Soon you'll be visiting Bodega Head to see the whales, the waves, the birds, the boats AND the bees.
Female digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, heads for her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Packing pollen, a female digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, crawls into her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey),
Outline of sand cliff with female digger bee heading home. Note the turrets these bees build. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The male digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, looks less like a bumble bee than the female. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're planning to hike the hills around Bodega Head in Sonoma County, watch out for the bears.
The woolly bear caterpillars, that is.
Last Sunday, with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees, the woolly bears were everywhere. They were munching on the gray-green leaves of Lupinus arboreus (yellow bush lupine), not yet blooming. We also spotted them on yellow mustard and wild radish, both members of the Brassicaceae family and both abloom.
If you look closely at these little caterpillars, they seem to be having a bad hair day. They look as if they just encountered a jolt of static electricity.
They're also known as the larvae of Ranchman's Tiger Moth (Platyprepia virginalis). Once they become moths, they do not resemble woolly bears any more.
Rick Karban, professor of entomology at UC Davis, has published a number of research papers on these herbivores.
"Platyprepia virginalis caterpillars are dietary generalists and feed on multiple host species within a single day," he wrote recently in Ecological Entomology. "We conducted field experiments to evaluate their performance on diets consisting of only their primary food, Lupinus arboreus, or diets consisting of L. arboreus plus other acceptable host species."
"We found that relative growth rates and rates of survival were higher when they fed on mixed diets compared to lupine only."
That feeding behavior we saw, too. A lupine lunch, with a touch of mustard and radish.
Close-up of woolly bear caterpillar on yellow lupine on Bodega Head, Sonoma County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Woolly bear caterpillar on wild radish on Bodega Head, Sonoma County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)