An abundance of bees

An abundance of native bees, that is. Australia has about 2000 species of them, according to Terry Houston’s Guide, and recently I seem to have most of them in my own garden.

I exaggerate, of course, but I know I have more than I can keep up with. In the last few days alone, for instance, I’ve caught four species feeding on Coleus flowers at once. Here they are.

Blue-banded Bee

blue-banded bee in flight
Blue-banded bee heading for a coleus flower, with its tongue already extended

Continue reading “An abundance of bees”

Eco-Fiesta 2017

This year’s Eco-Fiesta, a few days ago, was much like those of previous years: a lovely day in the park with all sorts of loosely ‘greenie’ and ‘alternative’ people and organisations.  I wrote enough about the 2014 and 2013 events that I shouldn’t need to present an overview this time, so I will dive straight in to the things which caught my attention.

Wildlife Queensland had a well-staffed stall featuring a great gallery of flying fox photos. These animals get a bad press and need all the support they can get.

North Queensland Regional Plan had a very boring stall (I’m sorry, but it’s true!) which tried to engage visitors in planning for our region, the local government areas of Charters Towers, Burdekin Shire, Hinchinbrook Shire and Townsville. It’s a state government initiative and welcomes online input here. I told them about our declining rainfall. What’s your concern?

The Beekeepers had their usual displays of honey and hives, Continue reading “Eco-Fiesta 2017”

Leafcutter Bees

Ants, wasps and bees (Hymenoptera) create a stunning range of nests, many of them so specific to the species that they can be used to identify their makers, as Mike Downes said in his article about black weaver ants.

That’s certainly true of Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp., Megachilidae, Apoidea) and we might even go one step further and identify them by the marks they leave behind when harvesting their nest-building material.

Leafcutter Bee
Signs of a Leafcutter

Leafcutters are solitary, not social like Continue reading “Leafcutter Bees”

Bee-eater lives up to its name

rainbow bee-eater
Rainbow Bee-eater

As I’ve said before, Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) take small flying insects on the wing, swooping from their perch and returning to juggle their prey for consumption. I saw this bird fly from our neighbour’s power line and was just able to get a shot through foliage a minute later. Its prey is, appropriately, a European honey-bee.