Oh, I wish I had the time to take some video of one of our plants this morning. Our desert spoon is flowering and it is alive with bees. Honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, digger bees, sweat bees, big bees, tiny bees, billions and billions of bees. Well, probably not that many, but it seemed that way. It was like a swarm.
The desert spoon plant sends up a huge flower stalk covered with blooms. This year there were 5 stalks. You can’t see them all here.
Each stalk was covered with hundreds of bees. Each of those specks was a fast-moving insect.
Of course you know that the bees were gathering pollen, the yellowish powder produced by the flower, and nectar, the sweet liquid reward for picking up the pollen. The honey bees pack the pollen into the specially shaped baskets on their hind legs. Check out the load this honey bee has gathered. Honey bees were the most numerous bees this morning.
I was able to get very close to these insects without any danger. They were intent on gathering food, and that is it.
The biggest bees I saw were the black carpenter bees, but they seemed intimidated by the other bees and quickly flew away. They may have also been sizing up the stalks as future home sites. Carpenter bees build their nests in agave and desert spoon flower stalks.
The second biggest bees were yellow and black bumble bees. They stay near the top of the stalks, so I couldn’t get a close up.
The smallest bees were some tiny sweat bees. They were numerous, but not as noticeable because of their pencil-lead size.
Mixed in were a few other sweat bees and digger bees. Here are two examples.
Finally, not all the creatures I saw this morning were working hard to gather pollen and nectar. This jumping spider was taking advantage of the bounty of bees to catch breakfast. It was behaving in an odd manner, jumping down and hanging upside down with its legs drawn in. In that position it looked all the world like a flying bee. Very Cool!!
For more information about bees, check out the “Africanized Honey Bees on the Move” website under the blogroll in the sidebar.
Also, try out growing list of children’s books about honey bees at Science Books for Kids.