When Irish eyes are smiling, it could be...
- St. Patrick's Day is approaching or
- A green insect is nearby
If you've ever seen the female metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, or the sand wasp, Bembix americana, you can't help but think about the "Wearing of the Green." They're especially "fashionable" on St. Patrick's Day.
The female metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, is green. The males are partly green; their head and thorax are green, but not their abdomen.
And the sand wasp, Bembix americana, who isn't mesmerized by those green eyes? (They might be smiling, too, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17).
Wishing you a pot of gold and all the joy your heart can hold. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
On St. Patrick's Day, we see green. We crave green. We wear green.
And the penalty for not wearing green? You get pinched.
Not so with green sweat bees. As their common name implies, they're green. A metallic green. But no pinching allowed!
The green sweat bee, Agapostemon spp., is an unforgettable bee. The females are metallic green, from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are "half green"; they have green heads and thoraxes, but yellow-and-black striped abdomens.
In California, Agapostemon texanus is widespread and common, according to the authors of the card set, Common Bees in California Gardens, published by the University of California Agriculture and Nature Resources. It's the work of UC Berkeley and UC Davis entomologists, including Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomolgy and Nematology. It's a companion to the book, California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
The card set, illustrated with photos and filled with facts, features 24 bees. This will give you a head start in identifying California's 1600 species of native bees--and inspire you to learn more.
Meanwhile you can learn about the distribution, flight season, nesting habits, floral hosts and how each bee species transports pollen.
How to order: You can order online ($15 per book) on this website, http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3552
Meanwhile, keep a lookout for green sweat bees. Their flight season is from March into October, but their peak flight activity occurs from May into September. We've seen them on Cosmos and Rudbeckia (sunflower family) and Erigeron (daisy family).
Not on St. Patrick's Day, though.
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.