|Robust cell builder colonies used for the production of grafted queen cells|
|Tilia sp. with Apis mellifera|
|Tilia sp. with Forficula auricularia ♂|
I have argued for a while now that the common earwig may contribute to pollination, and here in the middle of the day I continue this argument. While it is doubtful they contribute much in this regard, I am in favor of leniency towards any arthropod who utilizes floral rewards for sustenance. Earwigs are omnivorous, sometimes predatory, sometimes scavengers. Though they occasionally eat live plant material, they also eat mites and other small arthropods as well as decaying matter. Scientific consensus seems to agree that bee diseases can and are transferred at flowers, so perhaps this is just anecdotal or just plain wishful thinking but perhaps earwigs can help by eating the disease causative agent or carrier of said agent thus preventing exposure to a bee. It could happen.
|Oenothera elata with Apis mellifera|
|At a farm in the woods|
The orchid Spiranthes, or ladies tresses, is my most recent discovery, and it's growing right in the middle of the bee yard! Spiranthes, and related Piperia, are unusual for orchids because they produce nectar to entice bees to visit the flowers. Upon a brief observation, I saw no bees or any other pollinators visiting it. This is no surprise since honeybees are less likely to visit flowers right outside of their hives (where they most often poop) preferring flowers at a slight distance, even if they are the same flowers. Also, being a single flowering plant (that I could see), the odds were unfavorable that it would receive much attention, namely because honeybees and most bees prefer groups of flowers rather than single specimens.
|Horkelia daucifolia with Apis mellifera|
An obscure rose relative native only to this region, Horkelia daucifolia was in full bloom just a few weeks ago. Growing adjacent to an apiary, there were no shortage of honeybees on the small clustered inflorescences. Honeybees appeared to gather both pollen and nectar from the plants.
|Horkelia daucifolia with Hoplitis sp.|
|Horkelia daucifolia with Penstemonia clarkei|
|Longhorn flower beetles (Lepturinae) mating on Ceanothus integerrimus|
|An unidentified male solitary bee inside Sidalcea glaucescens|
|Agapostemon sp. on Hypochaeris radicata|
|Hypochaeris radicata with Ceratina (subg. Zadontomerus)|
|Ceratina (subg. Zadontomerus) on Hypochaeris radicata|
|Apis mellifera on Rubus armeniacum|
|Rubus armeniacum with Apis mellifera|
|Ligustrum sp. with Apis mellifera|
The small privet flowers are apparently heavy nectar producers, and every honeybee I observed appeared to be solely focused on nectar collection rather than pollen, though they do inadvertently collect some pollen which gets packed into their corbicula as a result of in-flight grooming.
|Table Rock Apiary|
|Conium maculatum with Apis mellifera|
Visible in the panorama above, poison hemlock fills the entire field between Lower Table Rock and the apiary. This is an invasive roadside weed from Europe, and is incredibly toxic. We can become quite ill if we are to accidentally break a stem and somehow ingest the sap, kids are even more at risk. Unfortunately, this weed also is a common squatter of many areas by the local waterways where kids are to be present. If one is unsure of the identity, look for spots on the stem (particularly where it branches). If there is any good news, it is that the bees appear to be utilizing the resources this plant is offering. Surely the small flowers are useful to a wide range of insect pollinators.
Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the characteristic spots on the stem, but the plants are not too difficult to identify by other means. Though often compared to wild carrot (Daucus carota), these are nearly five or six feet in height while carrot plants typically top out at three feet. Conium also prefers areas with substrate that is more wet, while carrot will happily flower where there is no moisture and the ground hard as rock. It is always best to edge on the side of caution, and if you aren't sure, wash your hands. They both smell like carrot too, by the way.
|Anthemis cotula with plant bugs (Miridae)|
Last but not least, no patch of weeds is complete without a sprinkling of stinking mayweed. The plants share a resemblance to German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) except the foliage is pungent and somewhat citrus-like. Honeybees occasionally make use of this, though it is probably only when there is not better forage available.
|Brodiaea elegans with Apis mellifera|
|Eriogonum compositum with multiple Strymon melinus|
|Strymon melinus, Gray Hairstreak|
|Mating Trichodes ornatus|
|Mating Strophiona tigrina|
|Mating Strophiona tigrina|
|Mating Strophiona tigrina (and a voyeuristic Strymon melinus)|
|Apis mellifera ♂ (aka a drone) on Hemerocallis|
This is a male honeybee (a drone) and this photographed was staged. You would be very unlikely to find a drone on a flower, let alone dusted with pollen. The story behind this image started when I caught this drone and brought it home in a small cage to show my three year old. She loved it, she thought it was amazing! My wife on the other hand was less pleased, and more concerned that the creature would not survive. I fed it some honey and released it onto this daylily the following morning. It proceeded to clumsily fall into the flowers center, then stumble to the edge of the petal to groom itself where it was photographed. A moment after the picture was taken, it fell off.
Drones have one purpose: mate with virgin queens. Then they die, usually after their genitals break off inside the new queen. This is similar to other bees, except the vast majority of solitary bee males feed themselves while in contrast male honeybees are pampered in the hive until it is time to mate at which point they are kicked out to mate, and die. Sometimes they are kicked out when resources are scarce, and their hard working sisters are well aware that drones contribute literally nothing to the fitness of the hive, so they are sent out to their deaths. Bees are metal as f*ck.