Did you feel the buzz in 2015?
The honey bees, bumble bees, sunflower bees, sweat bees...what a year it was!
It's time to walk down memory lane--or stray from the garden path--and post a few bee images from 2015.
It wasn't all flowers and sunshine. Bees took a beating--from pesticides, pests, predators, diseases, malnutrition, climate change and stress.
Often it was predator vs. prey. So we include an image of a praying mantis feasting on one of our bee-loved honey bees, and freeloader flies (family Milichiidae) dining on a spider's prey.
That's what praying mantids, spiders and freeloader flies do. They. Eat. Bees. If I were in charge of their menu planning and food preparation, however, they'd get five-star dining: stink bugs, aphids, mosquitoes, cotton whitefly, and the Asian longorned beetle.
Give me five! Give us all five!
Happy New Year! And may the buzz be with you.
The vibrant colors of Cosmos, an annual flower with the same common name as its genus, are spectacular. But we especially like the showstopping pink Cosmos with its bright yellow center.
Well, sometimes, they have a green center--that's when an ultra green sweat bee is foraging.
The female Agapostemon texanus is solid green, from head to thorax to abdomen, while the male of the species has a solid green head and thorax. It begs to differ with its abdomen; it's striped yellow and black, as if an artist ran out of green paint.
Agapostemon texanus is one of the bees featured in California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, the work of UC Berkeley-affiliated scientists Gordon W. Frankie, Robbin W. Thorp, Rollin E. Coville, and Barbara Ertter. Thorp, a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, so there's the Berkeley angle!
If you want to learn more about native bees, check out Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens, published by Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) in California Agriculture.
Another good source is the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab, directed by Professor Frankie. It has an easy to remember URL: http://www.helpabee.org/.
Meanwhile, how green is your Cosmos?
Could it be--a bee?
Yes, that's the metallic green sweat bee, also called an ultra green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. This one (below) is a female. Males and females are easily distinguishable. The female is all green, from head to thorax to abdomen, while the male (right) is green on the head and thorax but not on the abdomen.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, talked about them at the recent UC Davis Pollinator Gardening Workshop, sponsored by the California Center for Urban Horticulture.
The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family. They are "often called sweat bees because in hot weather they are attracted to human perspiration, which they lap up, probably for the salt it contains," according to the book, Bees of the World, by Christopher O'Toole and Christopher Raw.
Some of the family's many genera, including Agapostemon, are restricted to the New World. Halictus and Lasioglossum "are common to the Old and New Worlds," the authors write.
Coreopsis, also called tickseed or coreopsis, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae.
We spotted the female metallic green sweat bee at the Loch Lomond Marina, San Rafael. We captured the image of the male several years ago on a seaside daisy at the Mostly Natives Nursery, Tomales.
Green sweat bees will be among the bees featured in the book, "California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists," to be published in the fall of 2014 by Heyday Press. It's the work of Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley; Robbin Thorp of UC Davis; photographer Rollin Coville of the Bay Area; and Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley. It will contain nearly 30 of the most common bee genera in California.
Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) also published "Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens" in California Agriculture.
Beekeepers describe their honey bees as "my girls" or "my beautiful girls."
It's a term of endearment.
Now take the green metallic sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. If honey bees are beautiful (and they are) then these bees are spectacular.
Sometimes called ultra green sweat bees, the females are metallic green from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are metallic green from head to thorax. Their abdomens are striped.
This is one of the bees that native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, studies. When he monitors the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, he finds these periodically.
The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family, described in the book, Bees of the World, by Christopher O'Toole and Christopher Raw, as a world-wide group of bees. They are "often called sweat bees because in hot weather they are attracted to human perspiration, which they lap up, probably for the salt it contains," they write.
Some of the family's many genera, including Agapostemon, are restricted to the New World. Halictus and Lasioglossum "are common to the Old and New Worlds," according to O'Toole and Raw.
We captured these images below at the Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales, Marin County./span>/span>
It's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow and time for "The Wearing of the Green."
"The Wearing of the Green" is actually an Irish street ballad dating back to the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The author: anonymous. The color of choice: green. Members of the Society of United Irishmen wore green shamrocks to display their loyalty to the rebellion.
Now take insects. Tomorrow, if you're lucky, you might see some "wearing of the green." But not likely, unless you're visiting a museum and see pinned specimens. The metallic green sweat bees, Agapostemon texanus, aren't out yet in this part of the country.
Very striking, they are. The females are all green. The males are partly green; their head and thorax are green, but not their abdomen.
Still, Saturday, March 17 is a good day to think green!