08
Apr
21

The Birds and the Bees

We all have our nemesis. Even the humble bee.

Thanks to information from friend Cieran I visited a little hub of bee activity this week. The nesting site of a colony of Hairy footed flower Bees was buzzing with activity including some of the Hairy foots cleptoparasites Common Mourning Bees.

Now, Hairy Footed Bees give you more or less what it says on the tin. Well at least the males do. The females however are a dark round miniature football of a bee without the hairy feet. Well, how many females do you know that want hairy feet? They do wear orange stockings though.

The Common Mourning Bees however have go-faster white spots down their chassis. These guys sit and wait, then creep into the burrows of the HFFB’s and lay their eggs. When the grubs hatch they eat the eggs of the HFFBs as well as the stored pollen put there for the offspring of the HFFBs to feed upon.

You would think with all this coming and going, creeping and subversive tactics it would be enough. No. There were hundreds if not thousands of Yellow-legged Mining Bees amid the colony. Again, you get what you pay for with these small andrena bees; bright yellow legs! Their nemesis is the sleek ‘wasp-like’ Painted Nomad Bee, sporting orange legs and antenna. Yet another bee with cuckoo like tendencies. The male’s green eyes are quite a sight. Not known in Norfolk until 2006 I found a singleton roaming around the colony looking for a partner in crime no doubt. He’d even chosen her a nice big flower to tempt her into a bit of cold outdoor mating. Buuurrrr!

If cold northerlies halt the birds in their tracks … there are always the bees to look at!


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