Posts Tagged: bulbine
No, it's not a honey bee.
But many people think all floral visitors are bees.
It's a fly. A drone fly.
Family: Syrphidae; subfamily Eristalinae; tribe Eristalini; genus, Eristalis. Like all syrphids, it has two wings. The honey bee has four.
In its larval stage, the drone fly is known as a rat-tailed maggot. You'll see it in stagnant water, floating in ditches, ponds and drains. It feeds on stagnant rotting organic material.
We spotted this drone fly last Sunday sipping nectar on our bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). The plant is known as a bulbine, typically meaning a bulbous plant, but Bulbine frutescens has no bulb.
The drone fly, a pollinator, glittered in the late afternoon sun as it headed for the bulbine.
Then came the "drone strike"--on the nectar!
Drone fly nectaring on bulbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sunlight glittering on a drone fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Drone fly in flight, heading toward bulbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Look at the Xylocopa on the Xanthorrhoeaceae.
If that sounds like a mouthful, think of the mountain or foothill carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, on bulbine from the genus Bulbine in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae.
Carpenter bees and honey bees are among bees attracted to the yellowish-orange flower with bearded stamens. A native of South Africa, it's also known as yellow bulbine, snake flower and cat's tail.
The carpenter bee below is a male nectaring on Bulbine frutescens.
Bulbine is blooming now in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted in 2009 by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The garden, owned and operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is open from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Admission is free. The art that graces the garden is the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
The garden's mission: to provide a year-around food source for the bees at the Laidlaw facility and other pollinators; to draw attention to the plight of the bees; and to give visitors an idea of what they can plant in their own gardens.
A male mountain carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, nectaring on bulbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male mountain carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, caught in flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)