Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Honey bees on Sedum spectabile

In spring and summer I see mostly bumble bees and solitary bees on the flowers in the garden but at this time of year there are lots of honey bees, perhaps because they like the flowers here and perhaps also because there is relatively less to interest them outside.  Their favourite at the moment is Sedum spectabile.  It has hundreds of flowers on each flower head so the bees can walk from flower to flower, collecting nectar as they go.  I have several varieties including "Matrona", "Herbstfreude", and "Iceberg" but the bees seem to prefer the pink-flowered varieties.

This gives a great opportunity to watch the bees closely as they are less frantic than when on other flowers.

I tried to get a good photo of a bee with its tongue out sipping nectar.  It is hard because they have their heads buried in the flowers so this was the best I could do.

I don't think the bees collect pollen from sedum and it doesn't seem to produce much.  The few with pollen in their pollen baskets have probably collected it from other flowers,

The bees' relaxed foraging allows a great view of the pollen brush on the inside of the basitarsus.

I also noticed this bee with an adherent varroa mite.  I see this very occasionally in the hives but haven't noticed it before on a foraging bee.

The honey bees were joined on the sedum by butterflies,

bumble bees,

and solitary bees.  The larger one here is probably a Lasioglossum bee and is smaller than a honey bee.  I'm not sure what the tiny one is - it could be a solitary wasp or bee.

The sedum flowers look as though they will keep the bees happy and preoccupied for a few weeks yet.

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