Posts Tagged: Svastra obliqua expurgata
What's better than a bee threading through a flowering artichoke? Two bees, a honey bee and a long-horned sunflower bee.
Flowering 'chokes are big draws for bees. Plant 'em, let 'em flower, and they will come. Sometimes in droves. Sometimes in diversity. Always amazing.
A male sunflower bee, Svastra obliqua expurgata, aka the long-horned sunflower bee, stopped foraging to look at us with his big green eyes.
An Italian honey bee, Apis mellifera, buzzing low and packing white pollen, ignored us.
From their missions they did not stray.
Honey bee packing white pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A male long-horned sunflower bee, Svastra obliqua expurgata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
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)
But when a native wild bee such as the Svastra obliqua expurgata, also called "the sunflower bee," forages on a Mexican hat flower, it adds a little gaiety to the scene.
Did we just hear the Jarabe Tapatío or Mexican Hat Dance?
The scarlet red petals of the Mexican hat flower (Ratibida columnifera), droop, leaving plenty of room for dancing on the cone.
This little bee (below) was foraging this week in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
Svastra females have dense brushes of hairs on their hind legs and transport pollen dry in these brushes (scopae), says native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Honey bees carry pollen moist on concave hair-fringed pollen baskets (corbiculae).