No, it's not a honey bee.
But many people think all floral visitors are bees.
It's a fly. A drone fly.
Family: Syrphidae; subfamily Eristalinae; tribe Eristalini; genus, Eristalis. Like all syrphids, it has two wings. The honey bee has four.
In its larval stage, the drone fly is known as a rat-tailed maggot. You'll see it in stagnant water, floating in ditches, ponds and drains. It feeds on stagnant rotting organic material.
We spotted this drone fly last Sunday sipping nectar on our bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). The plant is known as a bulbine, typically meaning a bulbous plant, but Bulbine frutescens has no bulb.
The drone fly, a pollinator, glittered in the late afternoon sun as it headed for the bulbine.
Then came the "drone strike"--on the nectar!
Look at the Xylocopa on the Xanthorrhoeaceae.
If that sounds like a mouthful, think of the mountain or foothill carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, on bulbine from the genus Bulbine in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae.
Carpenter bees and honey bees are among bees attracted to the yellowish-orange flower with bearded stamens. A native of South Africa, it's also known as yellow bulbine, snake flower and cat's tail.
The carpenter bee below is a male nectaring on Bulbine frutescens.
Bulbine is blooming now in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted in 2009 by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The garden, owned and operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is open from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Admission is free. The art that graces the garden is the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
The garden's mission: to provide a year-around food source for the bees at the Laidlaw facility and other pollinators; to draw attention to the plight of the bees; and to give visitors an idea of what they can plant in their own gardens.
It's like a spray of sunshine in the depths of winter.
The Bulbine frutescens, native to the desert grasslands of South Africa, is blooming well in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, located on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
On any given day, even with the temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, the nearby honey bees find their way to the yellow compound flowers perched on the two-foot stalks.
The half-acre bee friendly garden, which opened to the public on Sept. 11, 2011, is gated (to keep out the rabbits), but it's open from dawn to dusk, all year around. Admission? Free!
The designers wanted something blooming year around in the garden, and that's exactly what's happening.