I was in the rainforest and not much was showing up so I put a tiny drop of honey on a rotting wooden post to see what would happen and the beetle showed up, then the ants showed up and the beetle ran away. It got to the rim of the rotting post and seemed to think twice about running and turned around to go back to the honey. Honey must be total nectar to the small creatures, bees being so protective of it.
All the while I was shooting what I was seeing, from the best angle I could for DOF and aligning both creatures at the same time. A little exercise you could say. I took many shots and then decided on the arrangement to suit the story. The story was real but I couldn’t get the shots to tell it as it happened.
When the beetle turned round to go back to the honey there was an ant waiting for it and it stopped it at each turn. It was at first cowed by the ant but didn’t give up on the honey. The ant even turned its behind to squirt formic acid at it to begin with but still the beetle came on. The beetle persisted passively and the ant gave eventually way until the beetle was back near the honey and the same ant appeared to be confronting it with a warning – ‘watch out mate’.
Slowly but surely the beetle and the ants came to an unusual understanding and made a meal of the honey together, one on either side of the treasure. I suspect the ants just didn’t want a fight for the honey as there was enough to go round and better not to risk injury or death – survival being foremost of any creature.
That’s instinct working intelligently.
The weather is still changeable and a few bees still about. This one came out a bit different with Blue Salvia and reflective in the BG.
These bees just keep going no matter what, as long as the conditions are conducive … and it all changes in the blink of a storm.
It looks like the rainy season is coming to an end and it feels like Spring. But that’s only here in Brisbane, Oz. What couldn’t stand the heat and dry or wet is now coming into its own, sprouting, blooming and seeding. It’s nice and cool at any time of the day.
There are still native bees about and I suspect this Autumn’s Spring will give way to an abundance of forms, and then it all changes again. The nature of being in existence, change.
Even up a ladder there were bees flying about. It’s good to see, to be.
A few on Salvia, a blue flower I got for the bees.
Fly resting on a twig.
The elusive Carpenter Bee making a rare appearance at her nest entrance.
Time seems to fly. It is a while since the last post and it behoves me to keep going and not let too much time pass between, as that risks lengthening with time. It’s a practise, one that pleases me, and I trust others.
Change takes time and it’s that I was waiting on. But I can’t wait on change as that just puts it off anyway. Life is contrary, have you heard? Seeking or expectation brings about its opposite. The key to change is to have had enough of the way it is and see the fact without trying one way or another.
I know some – many – do believe, that decisions have to be made, but I live my life not theirs – in my timelessly time filled way.
And so I won’t ‘philosophise’ any more today and leave you with images of our little cousins.
It has rained a lot lately. From the garden of nature to you.
Because of advancing age and early injury that result in the slow breakdown of the body, I make compensations or compromises to go on doing what I most enjoy as far as practical application of my skills, character and predisposition are concerned.
So, in the cool of the night, rather than the heat of the day, I have been making the best of what I know of the wildlife hear-abouts – capturing them while they sleep or are otherwise less cognisant of me and my approach for a shot.
Since finding them and learning of their roosting and sleeping habits a few years ago bee’s have been my favourite creature to image, especially at the dawn or dusk when the temperature is best for taking some time for getting the composition right – for my taste – especially the now little seen Leaf-Cutter bee.
I am long past chasing them around during the day, though I do love to get shots of them foraging it is rare enough that you don’t see many, but time tells all – all that can be told in that time is enough. I don’t fret it is the point – not that I am Mr Peaceful either at times, human is more appropriate, with a spiritual (a word that conjures images of charlatans selling the all-cure snake oil on the street corner – for me) bent – and I know better, though the real thing appears rarely – whatever ‘real’ is.
I won’t go on too much now, or last too long maybe, so I will do what I can to bring you the beauty of the form, colour and function of our little cousins – before they too disappear from common, or any, awareness. Because the way things are going, business as usual or worse from our esteemed social leaders, it won’t be long before we, the people, wonder what happened to make the earth such a hostile and difficult place, when in fact and truth it is the world that is hostile – two completely separate realities extant in parallel.
Is it really a choice? Or an inevitability, as Man never really learns except by pain. Unfortunate, or just the fact of human nature? You have to start with the fact …
The earth will be ok in the end, as it was in the beginning. It doesn’t suffer, it only undergoes, and still is, regardless, irrepressible.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends – however small that hole may be. And never relent in the making of light, no matter what the impediment.
That’s what this endeavour of mine is at times; a reminder to acknowledge the simple good of sense through the wall of mind or physical pain that depends only on what I attend to – largely.
And so there was this visitor in the garden that I had only before seen in passing flight, its size and flash of colour the only track of its existence. A mystery until it presented in masked form, a mystery still.
The Passion-fruit Vine attracts many a visitor these days, being of fruiting maturity, flowers of delightful aroma. An oasis to many a little one, the fairies and elves of our nature, that come and go as they please.
Occasionally inspected by the Vine’s guardians, the little army of black ants that know no fear or favour – just the command of form and function.
There is no disposition in nature to give up, until the end, of form and function – missing a piece of a leg a beginning, a common condition – mobility being essential in an ever moving world.
Anything not mobile is ant food.
I suppose that depends on what kind of gardener you are. For one who enjoys macro and all the magnificent creatures that become apparent in all their wonderful colour and architecture it is a delight indeed what can be found, usually just by being there in the garden doing nothing more than enjoying the sense of it all.
One day I saw this giant wasp land on what was supposed to be something of a birdbath, with water plants and stones and things in it for any other creature that might find it attractive. What was unusual was the size of it; about 2.5 inches long and it would fly with all legs hanging down so it looked very relaxed, without a care in the world.
It was collecting water from the bath, either for drinking or to help with making a nest somewhere nearby, probably up in the rotten old paperbark trees. A kind of Potter Wasp I believe that would use the water not just for slaking a thirst but also for making or lining the mud nests it builds.
Then I saw a second one and the first appeared almost immediately after it and they both chased each other around for some time until they landed on the birdbath and started mating by the edge. I still didn’t approach them for any shots as they are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment and I didn’t want to interrupt.
So I let them do what they do and eventually off they flew up into the trees of the garden. They came and went at different times until one day I was surprised to see one just sitting there on one of the stones. It wasn’t a perfect situation for a shot but I took what I was offered and here it is.
What surprised me was the fact I have only ever seen these wasps in the deep bush where they have a distinct ‘don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you’ sort of attitude. In other words they command respect, and rightly so. There’s an unmistakable intelligence about them.
I gave them their space and they gave me a few pictures. That’s as it is, no problem. Season’s not over yet, though the rain keeps falling …
I found her at night lying on a rain-soaked flower in the garden, some kind of Daisy, gripping by her feet and jaws. It had been raining and windy for two days and she was in danger of drowning or starving, even hypothermia since the rain went on for another few days – we have had floods again in Brisbane. So I fed her the smallest amount of honey, a tiny drop on the tip of the thinnest firm twig placed to her face and near her mouth. She wasn’t alarmed, in fact she gestured the cleaning of her face with her front legs, down towards her mouth, and showed more sign of life – a little unexpected movement.
The next day she was still there so I took the flower and placed it in a glass with some water supported by thick dry tissue, to keep her from falling in the water. Then I fed her another tiny amount of honey, and she loved it. Immediately she was full of life and crawling about the new arrangement until she finally settled in the folds of the tissue where the water would be soaked off her body and she might warm up a little. Later I went out to see if I could get another shot and she was gone with the lull in the weather. Today, two days later, a similar bee, looking very healthy, landed on a nearby leaf as I was walking the garden – maybe her. Who is to know such a thing?
It’s often considered an amusing expression of ‘teen’ impatience but I’d like to put a different slant on the phrase – Are We There Yet?
Where is ‘There’? Surely it is where there is no more impatience? And if you take away impatience you have to take away so much else that is purely emotional, negatively so – as it contributes only to discontent, anxiety, future looking that divides the moment and causes inner (and outer) conflict.
So ‘There’ is surely a place of peace, peace of mind – is there another kind, really? And I have to say ‘NO’ – doubtlessly. Just look around you and you will see everybody is discontent about something. I don’t want to turn this into a dissertation on basic human nature so I’ll stick to the big picture.
Look into the news of the world, not just what your own local outlets produce, and join the dots. It takes a little time to get it but the picture is one of definite self-interest. Not just ‘do I have enough’, but do I have enough for every conceivable eventuality, as if to prepare for the worst. And most of all ‘Do I have what I want’, beyond what ‘I’ need.
To do that requires you to ignore the needs of any who don’t fit your tribe. Yes, we are still tribal. You’ll also see that irrefutably expressed in the big picture, which is only a tapestry made up of all the little pictures. So you don’t really have to look far to see.
And having seen it the question is ‘What can be done’? Well, there’s the question every sensitive soul has been asking since time began. The simple answer is you have to do what you are moved to address the injustice you see – or you are not being true to yourself, and that has serious long term consequences – both ways.
Or there is the more pointed answer to the question ‘What can be done’? I write about it here all the time and every now and then someone comments that shows they get it – what I am really talking about, and it’s not macro or nature – or it is but not what you think.
In fact I can’t write anything without pointing somewhat to the solution. When you have done what you are moved to do you have nothing else to do and you either find the truth of the matter or continue by the momentum of past behaviours – and do your best, if you do.
Most don’t realise it but what we have on earth, as the world produced by thinking and emotion, is hell. Heaven is in the other direction, inside, the negation of thought and emotion – which of course is hell to anybody addicted to undisciplined thinking and emotion, but the withdrawals only last a while – hell ends.
So if you want hell go on thinking and being emotional. But if you want heaven – and you have to really want it, just like any addict has to want to give up the object of addiction – you have to get serious. Serious is knowing what the problem is, really, and knowing what to do about it – a rarity indeed. And doing it.
If you want to know the solution I have already outlined it in the first four pages top right, there is a logic to them. But to truly simplify it here I will tell you; if undisciplined thinking and emotion – which is what most people do and creates the existential world of good and bad – is the door to hell, the door to heaven is the pure and simple sensation inside the body – to which the natural senses are the existential reciprocal. ‘Right’ meditation, in other words.
It’s that simple. And only when you have had enough of the one can you begin to really ‘get’ the other. And if that seems complicated that’s because you are thinking about it instead of sensing the truth or falseness of it, and just doing it. Or not doing it and just moving on to what is true for you now.
It’s that simple but nothing good comes easy, until it does, but by another will than mine, or yours. And not without the endeavour – relentlessly.
Though the Sun will surely shine, don’t get caught out in the rain.
Anyone who has been following my posts on this site will know I have worked at making the garden a place for the little ones to visit, maybe even stay and nest. You will know the endeavour has been somewhat successful, weather permitting.
The other day I went about clearing away a years fallen palm leaves and on the way got to see places I don’t usually go. At one of those places, coming to dusk, I came upon a band of bees hovering, landing, taking of and doing it over and over – as BBB’s (and others) do.
So I sat and watched a while and – it came to pass – the place is a nest of males, where they rest out the night. I had seen females looking for suitable nest sites during the day. I have only so far seen this roosting behaviour in the fields by the rain-forest remnant – and was pleased to see it around the house, indeed.
After enough of the dark hours had passed and the bees were well enough asleep I went to see what could be done to get a few pix – which can be a disturbing affair, to the bees, and myself – because it often involves some disturbance of the environment they roost and in the prevailing climate they are warm enough to fly even though they can’t see to well in the dark.
And this is what happened. I was in position with various bits and pieces (necessary for night shooting) and had slipped some BG material in place to better show the bees off and one was spooked and flew off, then another. I kept track as much as possible and found one that has settled on some nearby dead banana tree stem – which I leave in place to break-down to form habitat and eventually humus – got a shot or two and left it in place.
I lost track of the other that was disturbed and just trusted it didn’t lose itself in the undergrowth and would be ok come morning and go about its little life – I’ll never really know. But when I finished and went back towards the house I heard this buzzing noise I usually only hear when I am close to a bee. And there was the second one, buzzing up to the exposed light-bulb – it had hitched a ride on my clothes.
I got a glass and a cap for it; improvised from available material I leave about, and set about capturing the little bee. It wasn’t too difficult, you just have to be careful not to injure it when slipping the cap on and containing it. When that was done I brought it back to the spot I had disturbed it from – a place that gets the early morning sun – and set it up so it would live out the night and even make its way back to it’s roosting mates.
And it all seemed to work out fine. The bee climbed out of the containing glass by the thin stick I left jutting out of it and leaning against a taller stem – its preferred roost – and it climbed and went back to sleep. I don’t tag them, obviously, but I trust he lived to work another day and maybe even learned something from the experience – don’t go flying at night, it’s only a photographer when the flash goes off. :)
And one I held a leaf behind for the BG.
Well, no sooner than I have said how dry it is here the rain comes. And it poured floods up and down the East coast. Fortunately where I am is protected from the worst of it, barring high winds – falling trees, ravaged gardens, big clean up and the heat/humidity.
Some are saying these extremes are here to stay and I am either at home with it or move on from it, remains to be seen – it doesn’t get easier. It was a cyclone that hit the coast a few days ago and the next day there were more bees about than I have ever seen, and of kinds I have never seen before.
People and all sorts of creatures were made homeless, and then it all sorted itself out, as it does. I am at least pleased the little ones had food for the duration, and the shelter a wild garden provides as habitat. And pleased for the opportunity to see so much I wouldn’t otherwise have done.
I have since noticed there is a gang of male Blue Banded Bees that roost in the back garden, up against the fence, on the dried out stems of Star Jasmine – the same the small native wasps like to hang their nests from. Also, while clearing up I disturbed a Carpenter Bee that had made its home in a dried out stick I used to support plants. When I noticed it flying around the spot the stick used to be I put the stick back, today the Carpenter is also back.
It seems such extremes are approaching, in time and event; there will soon be no option but to move on – one way or another. I could do with new pastures anyway, the old being so worn …
Drought is no stranger in Oz and it is back with a vengeance. While we usually have the wet season about now it has drizzled and gently rained on a few days out of the last few months and it isn’t looking like getting wet any time soon. The bees, and everything else, are dying for the rain, the monsoon that brings more life than death.
This has significant implications for the wildlife, water being the first requirement of sustainability. But everything gets through, adapts or moves on. As it happens there is one spot that will probably never really dry up as it is an integral part of the drainage system of one of our big shopping centres that flood water from the inland hills must pass through – it was once a part of the natural system that was built over but maintained.
There is always an upside, as far as I am concerned, it’s how I keep going through the brutality of a war zone society often looks to be – and actually is. Yeah, let’s not go into that – you see it or you don’t and that’s enough. Nature is also a war zone, but there’s nobody to suffer emotionally – is there another kind – from it. Optimism has no place but with the pessimist.
So I tend the garden, more of a haven for the little ones this year than last. Some surprises – a new born Emerald Cuckoo Wasp, and some amusement – the bum of a bee sticking up out of a bamboo, looking like it doesn’t realise. And one giant wasp and mate that make good use of some water I leave out – must be over 2” inch long and thick as my little finger – that is well aware of me and to whom I haven’t gotten close, yet – we’ll see. You get the pix I get …
What a shocker nature can be, to the insanity of the emotional thinker, if it can but see … what a wonder, in a sense of the whole where the particular retreats to perspective … and it only lasts the blink of an eye.
The rest is just living; no big deal except it keeps going somehow – by the same singular purpose.
Not for this little fellow. Probably because he was shot on Xmas day, and it was raining. It is still 2012,yes??? Had to check.
What’s this obsession with the marking of time, easter, birthdays, holidays, xmas and now new year? Or is it just a distraction from time, psychological time.
Is it just a political and economic opportunity? Or has that just usurped the natural people’s celebration of the passing of the seasons. Because make no mistake, the pollies and business-men only have their own best interests at heart – with the occasional exception, there’s always an exception to make the rule.
Anyway, given the obscenity and sentimentality of modern celebrations I give them a miss. I would rather be writing this, or shooting pix in the field or garden, but certainly not getting inebriated with so-called friends who are gone tomorrow when the headaches set in.
Inebriated on my own, now that may be, and everything else out of mind? Feet up and watching a no ads TV program or movie of a night. :)
And now and again going and having a look at what the new night may have brought, moths, spiders, and all …
Anyway, I trust you still enjoy the pix, and sometimes the words that go with them.
All the best …
The bee hotel referred to in the last post is actually a maternity ward. There are now eight or nine holes filled by the Orange Tailed Bees with eggs and what they need when they hatch. I have also seen the bees dig out the holes after an Ichneumon wasp has visited and taken advantage, by laying her eggs in or on the bee’s eggs.
I suppose they are more a resin bee as they line and seal the nests with resin collected from somewhere nearby. Then they finish off with a layer of earth so the hole doesn’t look much different from the surrounding wood. They are very particular about this finishing process and it is the only time to get a shot of them, when they are in the open and fully focused on the nest. And until they finish a nest site they usually sleep in the hole and can be seen pulsing in the night light of a good torch.
It is still very early in the year for bees and wasps so I expect there will be ample opportunity to observe the comings and goings about the bee’s ‘holed log’ hotel. And they are not the only bees to take up nesting there but the others are just too fast and small so far, to get any pix.
Another curious structure has begun to appear at small holes around the house, and on another log of different wood that I also drilled for nesting creatures. It’s a wasp’s nest to which there is a mud tunnel for an entrance which the wasp takes much time to build. After the wasp is done the tunnel disappears and the hole is plugged with mud.
All just going about their business, except for the ubiquitous ants who go about everybody else’s business, it seems – raiding smaller bee’s nests, at a cost. So I make it that the ants can’t have everything by hanging the nests from a rope or chain and make it impassable without wings.
Such is living in this little piece of urban jungle.
… or, how to attract bugs to your garden so you don’t have to go hunting and can’t say you can’t find any to shoot – with the camera of course … :) You don’t have to be a gardener, sense will do, just don’t think too much.
Bugs need all the same things we do, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding any once the basics are provided – by you and the available but often unknown, unpredictable or hidden nature. These days, after so many years of insecticide and habitat destruction, ignorance of the simple fact of things, nature can do with a little help from friends – people who have some respect for the little things without the need of reward other than the nature itself. That’s the idea anyway.
Where to start? Put yourself in the creature’s shoes and look at what you need for the basics. They are no different to us, just smaller and it’s a jungle to them, or a desert, but wild and savage either way. We’ve got a piece of earth, no matter how small or barren it is, and depending on what is most obviously absent I would start with that. If it’s shelter that’s missing provide some, in the form of plants and old tree trunks if there are any handy, or anything that will provide shelter from the elements will do, even bricks or just bits and pieces.
Plants need water and so do bugs, so water is necessary, watering the plants and an open and available source which can be as simple as a bucket you keep filled – bird’s love it too – will serve many creatures as long as there is ramp access of some kind, like a stick or other stable buoyant object/s for them to drink and gather from.
For food a compost heap of only vegetable matter is a great production ground. Keep it moist and shaded and it will be a centre of life in the garden even if it’s not obviously so. Don’t be too discrimination, the spiders and plant bugs have to have their day, and the garden will eventually find its own equilibrium. Save any plants you can and be generous to the garden and its needs – and it will be generous in return. That’s the way it works, diligence is always rewarded, and you don’t have to be an expert though there’s nothing stopping you if that’s what you want in order to know and understand more.
Shelter is essential if the other basics are in place. If there’s nowhere to sleep or rest the bugs won’t stay for long – would you? So the plants are shelter to some bugs, the compost is that to others, you can have a heap of wood in another spot, and then there is the mimicry of specifics such as for bees that I have.
I have an old cut log that I drilled varying sized holes in for all the flying creatures that might take up residence. I had it up for months before any bee took an interest, and then wasps and other flying creatures came along and many holes are now occupied by the next generation.
If I am attending enough I may even see some of these babes emerging.
One thing the little nature doesn’t need is philosophy, or teaching of any kind. They are instinctively intelligent and don’t need to dwell on anything outside the moment so they are as content as can be, no problem.
One thing I have to watch out for is the Ichneumon Wasp, she parasitises the others nests and that won’t do. So I discourage them, in my way. Just as I discourage parasites of another kind, the human kind …
Other predators are also attracted to the garden if you give it enough time.
Out where the soil is dark and damp there grow cities for the little ones. You know, the little people, the fairy’s, the bugs ‘n’ things …
On cities called plants, some deliberately grown for the purpose, are housed in their way all the different kinds of creatures, and fed by flowers and other inhabitants in particular. All sorts of shapes, colours and sizes, and with their particular niche, fit the metropolis called the garden – not unlike people in that way.
I haven’t been tending it as much as usual, getting down and dusty with the magical ones, but haven’t been neglecting them either. Everything has its season; some plants can’t stand the condition of the soil – too much clay, or just don’t fit into the network for long and die off. And the creatures grow, come and go, and I move some around if they are decimating a particular area.
Yes, I interfere, that’s why it’s called a garden and not a forest or meadow – gardens are managed somewhat, though as little as possible in my case. Much because I don’t know anything about gardening, plus I prefer to see what arises from the earth given the best conditions I can provide – with water, rot, light and shade.
One unusual housing complex, an old log I drilled with the possibility of bees making nests in it as it hangs under the veranda, is now well on its way to being populated. There are Orange Tailed Leafcutter bees, one kind of mud working wasp, a big old long and thin Ichneumon Wasp looking to lay in some others nest – and another short and fat kind, a variety of other flying creatures, scavenging ants – and a long term resident Spider. A host of creatures making a home of the holes I drilled – moving too fast to get many shots of them yet.
One thing about the nature is you’ll never catch it ruminating on the past; it’s always in the present without the speed bump of self reflection to bring it grinding to the turgidity of emotional consideration – we endeavour.
Flying or standing still in its ever coloured coatings, shining brightly in the summer sun, there’s truth in that worn old beetle.