Iceland’s White-Tailed Bumblebee

3 08 2013

Move over gift-store tchotchkes, there’s a better travel souvenir in town. Well, at least when it comes to me.

Photos of bees from places I’ve never visited nor will visit in the near future.

And that’s just what friend and fellow blogger from Uncategorized Days did. Just back from an adventure-filled hiking excursion in Iceland, she sent me a batch of gorgeous bumble photos :)

Taken in two different locations, photos showcase Bombus lucorum – the white-tailed bumblebee. The photos taken of bees in the moss campion (Silene acaulis) were shot at the Krýsuvík geothermal area in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The photos including bees in the dandelions were taken at the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve in the Central Highlands.

Iceland is home to three different species of bumblebee, including B. lucorum.

Many thanks!





Summertime Bombus hortorum in the UK

15 07 2013

Thank you to a regular contributor for the following lovely photos of an industrious Bombus hortorum.

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013





Pittosporum and Honeybee in Nanjing, China

29 04 2013

Let’s celebrate. Bee season is off to a running start in central China, and I caught a few photos today. I’ve identified one of the flowering bushes so far (this is a Pittosporum), so I’ll start by posting two photos of the plant, one with a honeybee deeply engrossed.

Pittosporum and Honeybee - Nanjing China - April 28 2013

Pittosporum - Nanjing China - April 28 2013





Carpenter Bees in Alabama

1 04 2013

Tcarpenter bee drawinghanks to a fellow blogger, I have some beautiful, new photos of carpenter bees from Montgomery, Alabama. Carpenter bees and bumbles are often mistaken for one another. The major difference between the two is that the former have a relatively hairless abdomen, while the latter is fuzzy all over.





Chinese Magnolias

18 03 2013

[Also posted on The Good Villager.]

It’s spring. Flowers are popping up everywhere. I just posted on the all-important Chinese plum blossom season with some lovely shots provided by one of my students. Now, the magnolia trees outside my housing complex have blossomed, and I was able to get out there myself today and photograph.

After doing a little research, there are what I believe to be two different species of native magnolia trees here. One (see the white blooms) is the Magnolia denudata (玉蘭 – yù lán – literally ‘jade orchid’), also called the Yulan magnolia – a symbol of purity. The other (purple blossoms) is the Magnolia liliiflora species (木兰 – mù lán – literally ‘tree orchid’), also called the Mulan magnolia.

Enjoy these beauties below.





Enjoying Lavender in Norfolk

15 01 2013

Taken out in the beautiful lavender fields of Norfolk, East Anglia, UK, this is a guest contribution by the folks at the up-and-coming Bee Plan. Their site is in the works, but their mission is clear – they are a non-profit supporting a programme of bee-friendly planting in east London. Looking forward to seeing them (and the bees) in action in the near future :)

Bee - Norfolk Lavender





November Bees in Nanjing

13 11 2012

One thing that I was excited about in coming back to China was catching some bee action. There is a different species of honeybee here – the Eastern honeybee or Apis cerana. I keep a photo gallery of bees from my travels as well as contributions from site visitors. I have a few from my time in Hunan province. Sadly, in the 5 months in 2011 and the 2 months in 2012 I spent in China’s tropical Hainan, I only saw bees once, and I didn’t have my camera with me. But today on a walk in northern Nanjing, I not only came across a massive and impressive spread of urban community gardens, but I spotted a honeybee picking up some autumn nectar as well as some pollen. Check her out below:

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China





Why Do Bees Just ‘Hang Out’?

9 10 2012

Bees are supposed to be busy. Always on the move. Foraging, scouting, collecting, helping the hive thrive. But sometimes, you see a bee just sort of hanging out. Not moving. Not doing much of anything.

There may be a few reasons for this. First, it might be too cold. Bees’ flight muscles need to be held at specific temperatures in order to work properly. When it gets too cold (especially when it is too cold for the insect to shiver and thus raise muscle temperatures), they are grounded.

Another reason might be that the bee is old and tired. This might especially be the case if you notice ragged wings on the bee and it is later in the season.

It could also be possible that the bee (especially males) has forgotten to fuel up by drinking nectar during all of its flying around. No fuel means no energy.

I had a photo submission from 100twenty out in Southern Quebec. A quiet bumble was found hanging off the wild aster in Gatineau Park. One thing about grounded bees – they make for excellent photo opportunities ;)





Frangipani, Anyone?

23 09 2012

Ji dan hua - egg yolk flower - frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan, ChinaOne of my favourite flowering trees found in the tropics is Plumeria, commonly known as frangipani. They grow in abundance here in tropical China, where they are known as ‘ji dan hua’ (鸡蛋花) or ‘egg yolk flowers’. I find when I pass by them, I inevitably pick up a flower than has fallen and carry it with me on my journey, occasionally smelling it absentmindedly. Not only it is a simple and beautiful flower, but its perfume is intoxicating.

sphinx moth - by the Garden Helper - http://www.thegardenhelper.comIt is actually more fragrant at night. Sphinx moths are the pollinators, and these night creatures follow the deceptive scent in search of nectar. Nectar they don’t find, but they do end up pollinating. Sneaky tree.

Check out some photos of the tree and a few varieties of flower growing around my building at on site at my place of work.

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Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Branches of an egg yolk flower tree - Frangipani - Plumeria - ji dan hua shu - Haikou, Hainan, China





Hymenocallis littoralis – The White Spider Lily

9 09 2012

Not a bee-pollinated flower, but gorgeous nevertheless. The White Spider Lily is native to where I’m living, and I wanted to showcase them.

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012

Hymenocallis littoralis  - The White Spider Lily - Haikou, Hainan, China September 2012





Tibouchina urvilleana

30 08 2012

A small, but stunning, flower growing on the grounds of my new apartment building in Haikou, Hainan in tropical Southern China. I crouched down in the flower beds to take my photos only to discover that some of the Chinese living in the complex started photographing me photographing flowers. Strange, but true…

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012

Tibouchina urvilleana in Haikou, Hainan China - August 29 2012





Dahlia coccinea Visitor

26 08 2012

This incredibly hairy bumble was spotted in downtown Vancouver, BC among the dahlia.

Dahlia coccinea and bumble bee visitor





Rosemary’s Bumble

15 08 2012

While visiting the Davie Village Community Garden in downtown Vancouver, BC, I caught up on some bumblebee action in the rosemary patch. I haven’t identified the bee as she was moving too quickly for my terrible little camera to capture adequately. Fuzzy critter, fuzzy photo. Appropriate?

Purple Rosemary Flower - Davie Village Community Gardens - Vancouver BC - August 2012

Bumblebee on a Purple Rosemary Flower - Davie Village Community Gardens - Vancouver BC - August 2012





Covered in Pollen: Buzzing in the Hibiscus syriacus

12 08 2012

After a dry spell in bee land – the result of seeing bees without a camera in hand, or having a camera, but uncooperative bees – I hit the jackpot yesterday on a busy Saturday in downtown Vancouver, Canada.

Downtown? Yes! In fact, I often have excellent luck with bees in heavily urbanized areas (for example, spectacular luck in Los Angeles: see Full Pollen Sacs on a Los Angeles Bee; and downtown Ottawa, Canada: see Bombus impatiens in Downtown Ottawa). So, why not Yaletown in the downtown Vancouver core???

Hibiscus Syriacus by Eric KounceI will be posting a few series of bee photos, starting with this one, that mark a brief visit to Vancouver. I am heading back to southern China in a week’s time. Leaving the Western honeybee behind and returning (for the third time) to the Eastern honeybee. I do have posts and photos about bees and flowers in China – take a look at Flower Photos and Photos of Insects to see the growing, permanent collection on this site.

Anyhow, in this post, I’m looking at visitors to the lovely Hibiscus syriacus or the Rose of Sharon. A gorgeous white flower with a dramatic spray of crimson radiating from its centre. These flowers are literally dripping (if pollen can drip…) pollen, and  every one of the many species of bee visiting these flowers ended up absolutely covered within seconds of landing.

I have several photos below. Clicking these already large photos will give you an even larger one – please feel free to download and use (giving a credit to Bees Alive! – except for the full flower photo – would be excellent ;) ). Note, the first photo has both a honeybee and a Bombus vosnesenskii visiting the same flower.

Bombus vosnesenskii and Western honeybee visiting an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - August 2012

Bombus vosnesenskii visiting an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - August 2012

A western honeybee lightly covered in pollen from an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - Yaletown - British Columbia Canada - August 2012

A western honeybee in profile lightly covered in pollen from an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - Yaletown - British Columbia Canada - August 2012

An unidentified hairy yellow bumblebee on an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - Yaletown - British Columbia Canada - August 2012

Bumblebee completely covered in pollen on an Hibiscus syriacus in downtown Vancouver - Yaletown - British Columbia Canada - August 2012





Tomato Plants Love Bumble Bees

1 08 2012

And there is evidence of that statement below, thanks to another 100twenty contribution from eastern central Canada! (click for high-rez, as per usual).

July 2012 - Bumble bees love tomato plants - Southern Quebec

July 2012 - Bumble bees love tomato plants - Southern Quebec





Bumble Hovering over Birdsfoot Trefoil

29 07 2012

Photographically capturing a bumble in flight, especially when you’re not hunkered down waiting for one, is a major accomplishment. Thanks to this guest photo contributor for being in the right place at the right time and for having a quick trigger finger ;)

Bumble hovering over the Birdsfoot trefoil in Ottawa, Ontario





Blackberries Are Coming – Thank You Honeybees!

27 07 2012

Nearly three years ago, I published a short rant – a blackberry season rant, no less – on the first incarnation of The Good Villager, my responsible living and travel blog (then known as Something to Chew On). The Good Villager was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and having travelled through Canada, the US and China, we are now back in Nanaimo, BC to celebrate our third birthday. I think it’s worth talking about blackberries again, and as this post does and will live on Bees Alive! for all eternity, let’s throw (or gently place) a few bees into the mix.

Come mid- to late August, Nanaimo is absolutely covered in blackberries. You can almost walk anywhere and have breakfast or a snack along the way. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. But seriously, we couldn’t walk and snack without the bees. Honey bees are currently busy making that special period of time a reality.

I managed to get a few photos of our friends at work among the blackberry blossoms on Protection Island, a little island off the east coast of Vancouver Island at Nanaimo.

Honeybee pollinating blackberry blossom on Protection Island in Canada

Honey bee pollinating blackberry blossom on Protection Island in Canada





Bombus impatiens in the Onion Flowers

23 07 2012

Submitted by 100twenty from Southern Quebec. A Bombus impatiens hanging out in the onion flowers.

Bombus impatiens - July 2012 - southern Quebec

Bombus impatiens - July 2012 - Southern Quebec





Local Honey for Sale: Jane’s Honey Bees of Fraser Valley, BC

14 07 2012

Honey from Jane's Honey Bees of Fraser Valley, British ColumbiaLiz Graham is the Bee Master behind Jane’s Honey Bees located in Fraser Valley of BC. I met her while covering the Main Street Farmers’ Market in Vancouver where you can find her selling honey and value-added products.

Liz Graham of Jane's Honey Bees - Fraser Valley, BC CanadaThe company also offers pollination services, and because of this, crop-specific honeys are available (at my time of visit, blueberry honey was on offer!)

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You can find this beekeeper at the

Vancouver Main Street Farmers’ Market.

.Jane's Honey Bees Business Card





Gorgeous Pale Orange Bumble in Quebec

8 07 2012

Bombus sylvicola and ternarius by bumblebee.org Yet more identification issues. I spotted a beautiful pale orange striped bumble bee in Southern Quebec recently. According to bumblebee dot org, it could be one of two North American bumbles  (see left). Bombus sylvicola or Bombus ternarius. They look to be a much brighter orange.

The trouble with bee guides that rely upon sketches rather than actual photographs is that the drawings seldom look much like reality.

Enjoy my photos below!

Bombus sylvicola - Southern Quebec - June 20

Bombus sylvicola - Southern Quebec - June 20

Bombus sylvicola - Southern Quebec - June 20

Bombus sylvicola - Southern Quebec - June 20








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