The male bees have been photogenic this month. After the male carpenter bee two weeks ago, I found something unusual on a milkweed early one morning.
Actually, it isn't really unusual, you just have to get up early in the morning to see it. This is a cluster of male long-horned bees "sleeping" on a plant overnight.
If you look at bit closer, you can see the long antennae that give them the common name long-horned bee.
Isn't it adorable?
These particular bees likely belong to the Genus Melissodes.
If the male bees form a cluster to sleep on a plant overnight, where are the females?
Each female long-horned bee builds a tunnel nest in the soil, so that's where she stays at night. During the day she gathers nectar and pollen from flowers to provision her nest and then lays eggs on the food.
What do the male bees do during the day?
You can spot the male bees hovering around plants with flowers defending them from other bees and looking for females to mate with.
Have you ever been lucky enough to spot a cluster of sleeping bees?
May 20 is World Bee Day, but we can celebrate bees any day with hands-on STEAM activities.
1. Visit the World Bee Day website for detailed information about the importance of bees (and other pollinators). Look for why the organizers chose May 20 for the date. The right sidebar contains many links to other informative websites, including the beautifully designed and engaging Buzzing with Life.
2. Tohono Chul Gardens has put together an amazing collection of lessons about bees and other pollinators. Created to cover a week's worth of activities, it includes instructions for gardening and art. If nothing else, download the bee homes activity (PDF).
3. To get a glimpse of the diversity of bees (and some other insects), check out the photographs at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Flickr page. Seriously. Click on the photographs to learn the scientific names of the bees and more about them. For example, our little long-horned bee in the photograph above is a Melissodes trinodus.
4. Make a honey bee model (previous Growing with Science post).
5. See our collection of honey bee science activities as well as all our posts in the bee category.
6. Visit our growing list of children's books about bees at Science Books for Kids.
The solitary bees are incredibly active right now because there are tons of flowers.
Look at all the white pollen that is available for this bee to gather.
That doesn't mean the bees have got it easy, though.
It is one tiny bee in a giant moonflower (Datura).
By the way, from the human perspective the perfume from these night-blooming flowers is overwhelming if you stand too close.