I spend hours in my garden everyday during the warm months of the year, observing the life that bounces from flower to flower below, and from limb to limb above. I listen to the audible expressions of the visitors who frequent the fruits of my many years of outdoor labor. Many days I see repeat visitors, and every so often I catch a glimpse of a new arrival, and very rarely, I am prepared with my camera in hand. This is something I must improve upon, as magic doesn’t present itself on any particularly predictable schedule. My luck was on point this day that I found this lovely creature perched on Catmint in the early hours of the morning. Of course, it was my phone camera, but a camera nevertheless! She is a bee of the Apidae family, one of diverse size and color, including the bumblebees and honeybees.
Her genus is Anthophorini, and that’s where I will stop with all the scientific terminology. I have never seen this bee in my yard before. She tried to sneak in and sneak out, but I was an astute observer that day. Of course, the picture gave me reason to learn more about her, and I know you are dying to know some interesting facts about her too! Much of what I am about to share has come from the book, “The Bees in Your Backyard.”
Anthophorini has two species, Anthophora and Habropoda. Anthophora means “flower bearer,” while Habropoda means “graceful/delicate foot.” To me, she is about the cutest bee I have ever seen! So, the meaning of the names suit her very well. From my vantage point, I couldn’t easily or accurately determine which one she was, but her characteristics are definitely Anthophorini.
These bees have more hair than the average bee, and often have hairy legs, sometimes looking like leg warmers. The colors can range from slate gray to rusty-red to black! Wow, what a range. Some nest in twigs, but the majority nest in tunnels underground with many neighbors, otherwise termed an aggregation. Their size can range from 1/2″ to 1″.
Interestingly, this genus of bees are very good buzz pollinators, and all this time I was thinking bumblebees (cousins of Anthophorini) were the rock stars of buzz pollination! This means they are great for tomato and blueberry pollination, among other plants with fused anthers.
One very interesting fact, I found worth everyone knowing, is that not all of these bees emerge in the same year! That means that there are bees of this genus resting in diapause for 2, 7, and even 10 years! That’s astounding to me! How do they know when it is their year? They are cooped up in a tiny room deep underground, where the sun doesn’t shine, and the surface are hardly felt, and they somehow know it’s time to emerge. That’s a miracle!
I have found the natural world to be endlessly entertaining, and one of the best teachers. Learning from the natural world will never become dull.
And with that, I will leave you with a quote I recently stumbled upon.
“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it,” Roald Dahl.
Now, I’m off to find more magic to share with you! Won’t you go and find some magic too?