Nature's Place


Sealing the entrance - When all else is done.

Sealing the entrance – When all else is done.

A little pollen might help - Sure won't harm.

A little pollen might help – Sure won’t harm.

Feasting Bee - Unseen injury.

Feasting Bee – Unseen injury.

Wasp - Robbing the life of a bee - What they do.

Wasp – Robbing the life of a bee – What they do.

Young one - The new born often turn to see whence they come - Reflection?

Young one – The new born often turn to see whence they come – Reflection?

A case of mistaken identity? She seemed to think so.

A case of mistaken identity? She seemed to think so.

Alone at last.

Alone at last.

When all else is done, sleep and die at home on a leaf.

When all else is done, sleep and die at home on a leaf.

Let go, let go ... I saw it first.

Let go, let go … I saw it first.

Under the veranda at front of the house is where I keep some tools and do much of my preparations for the garden. It’s also where I hang the few bee hotels, wooden posts about 8″ diameter x a few feet long drilled to accommodate any creature so inclined to nest – not just bees. So I am around the comings and goings of the dominant native bee, the Orange Tail Resin Bee, as she makes her nests, is born again, mates and dies.

I have noticed in the last bee-busy week a few weakened bees on the floor – or in a tray I have placed to catch any fallen ones. These bees are unable to fly it seems, so I gather them up and give them every chance to get things together. I present them with water, pollen (in a picked flower), put them in sun or shade and let them climb as high as they can to launch from. I usually end up putting them in one of the plant pots they can explore on the way to being a bee. They may never fly but they don’t die hungry in the dust on hard concrete.

Some are small enough to be new born and others are big enough to be mature. I suspect the young ones may be damaged by something while in the nest, maybe the parasitising Ichneumon Wasp, or other such wasps that can be seen visiting these hotels. The bigger ones are probably females worn out by the constant work of breeding and nest making and all the preparations that go into it. It’s a lot she has to do when the male only has to ambush her – not known as charming man, but driven.

I saw this slow flying mass wandering above the garden the other day and thought it one of those big cumbersome beetles. When it landed and I got close I could see it was two bees mating, or he was trying to mate and ‘she’ scratching at him – didn’t look too successful to me. Eventually he gave up and the other, she I presume, took a good grip of a leaf and rested a while – which was a boon to me.

While back at the nests she was busy filling and sealing the entrance, then off she went again.

Until the next cycle … of birth and death, and everything in between.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge


36 Responses

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  1. Jake said, on 09/12/2014 at 11:57 am

    Awesome photos as usual Mark! I’ve also taken photos of these little resin bees in my garden which taught me a lot of patience! It’s pretty amazing seeing these guys hard at work every day.

    • Mark said, on 09/12/2014 at 12:33 pm

      How are you doing Jake. When you observe nature enough one thing eventually stands out. They never get emotional, so never get unhappy. And the truth of things here is what I acknowledge I get (more of).

      Nature is sobering to emotional man.

  2. Sky Blue Daze said, on 02/12/2014 at 3:58 am

    Your photos inspired me to buy my first macro lens, arrived last week. As a naturalist, I can’t teach enough about the importance of relationships in the ecosystem. You have captured and told a story we all should practice, stewardship in our own yards. Thanks for inspiration!

    • Mark said, on 02/12/2014 at 8:32 am

      Thanks Kay. I have a sense of justice that includes the little ones, big and small. The idea we have ‘dominion’ over the natural earth has been hijacked by the greedy ones. Dominion doesn’t give the right to exploit, it gives the responsibility to care for, as much as practical.

      If you haven’t seen it, here – – is where I go into my process, more or less. There are useful links in the comments too.

      • Sky Blue Daze said, on 02/12/2014 at 12:03 pm

        You are so right. If we don’t protect the little ones, like pollinators, we are doomed. Thanks for the link to your instructions for Macro. I think I read it when I first looked into your site. I’ll see if I can bookmark it.

        • Mark said, on 02/12/2014 at 4:52 pm

          Doomed, yes, but not lost … :-)

          Some of the links in the Macro Illustrated page will lead you to places where you can see how others do macro too.

          The stick is just that, a stick. I have numerous, the best are smoothed and polished with a little oil to preserve. If you just reread what I wrote about its use you will get the idea – from practise, as you say.

          Good luck with that. M

  3. afrenchgarden said, on 02/12/2014 at 3:23 am

    Your resin bees are beautiful and I so enjoyed sharing your beautiful photographs. Watching the bees lets you enjoy the moment with them. Amelia

    • Mark said, on 02/12/2014 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Amelia. Yes, when thought slows and focus is on what’s happening in front of me the pleasure is simple and profound.

  4. David said, on 01/12/2014 at 3:25 pm

    I think these are technically and aesthetically fantastic pictures. Your focus and exposure captured amazing detail and texture.

    • Mark said, on 01/12/2014 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks David. When the techs are practised enough the trick rounding it off is to be a bee, or a fly, or … :-)

      They can still be improved though.

  5. larryalyons said, on 01/12/2014 at 10:32 am

    Terrific images. You are an amazing macro photographer.

  6. circusgardener said, on 01/12/2014 at 3:20 am

    A lovely post, and stunning photographs

  7. standingoutinmyfield said, on 01/12/2014 at 12:22 am

    If they use the same nest block more than once, parasites can build up…

    • Mark said, on 01/12/2014 at 8:31 am

      Hi Laura. The same block is used repeatedly, a few years now. The parasites I know of that build up are usually mites, like tiny ticks, no? I see no mites on these bees when viewed up close. And what would be done about it?

      • standingoutinmyfield said, on 02/12/2014 at 12:31 am

        When we reuse nest blocks, we find that fungal and microbial pathogens increase with time, as well as the incidence of parasitoids (like wasps) that lay their eggs inside the larvae, or kleptoparasites that steal the pollen and eat the larvae. For our nest blocks, we have replaceable tubes for the mason bees; those get switched out every year. I think sometimes people also bleach the nest block (obviously giving it several days to air out) to kill fungal pathogens inside. I’m not sure about that…but I can look into it.

        • Mark said, on 02/12/2014 at 8:23 am

          Thanks Laura. I thought of bleaching them once a year, I could submerge them in a bath, but that would also destroy the wintering larva and I don’t want to do that.

          The hotels are made of two woods. One is a local Ironwood, dense as any hardwood. The other is arsenic treated pine posts that get used to border public land. A cheap option and the arsenic keeps the white ants from destroying the wood. I thought it would also kill off most else that tries to feed off it, and it doesn’t leach – supposedly. Could it be affecting the bees, maybe …

          It’s only three non flying bees so far, and they appeared otherwise healthy, running/crawling/climbing around the place – just not flying. There must have been 50 or so coming and going and born in the last two weeks.

          • standingoutinmyfield said, on 03/12/2014 at 5:31 am

            Wow 3 out of 50 is great news! That’s not a problem, I shouldn’t think. Usually, their mortality rate is very high.

  8. nalinki said, on 30/11/2014 at 10:14 pm

    Great shot!

  9. autopict said, on 30/11/2014 at 8:21 pm

    Great docu, great bees!
    I could watch this year some paperwasps, unfortunately the nest ‘disappeared’ before the young wasps could hatch!
    New year, new luck…..

    • Mark said, on 30/11/2014 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks AP … You have to watch paper wasps close, carefully … :-)

  10. Stacy said, on 30/11/2014 at 8:14 pm

    Great pictures again Mark, and it’s nice to read how someone cares for these small creatures which are so often swatted away by humans. I was wondering whether the bees could be affected by these nicotin-derived pesticides? I have read that these pesticides are like neurotoxins for bees, damaging their senses and causing disorientation, so that they start displaying abnormal behavior, like flying in winter, or being unable to perform their little ‘dance’ in the hives by which they inform the other bees where to find flowers. So sad to see the numbers of bees, butterflies and other insects decreasing. I wish this senseless spraying of destructive poison would STOP.

    • Mark said, on 30/11/2014 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Stacy. I don’t know what’s affecting them. It could be a neighbours pesticides but there are none close enough with gardens that might do it – would affected bees make it back to my place – don’t know. But I see the point; people are ignorant of consequences in their fear of loss and greed for more that narrows the perception to exclude the whole of nature or being outside what ‘I want’. Wanting, what I don’t need, is the problem.

  11. Godfried said, on 30/11/2014 at 6:26 pm

    WOW amazing pictures.

  12. NatureSpeak Photos said, on 30/11/2014 at 5:30 pm

    These photographs are absolutely brilliant!

  13. nicciattfield said, on 30/11/2014 at 5:27 pm

    It’s so interesting to see them up close like this. Seeing their faces like that helps to imagine them as creatures of intelligence, with a perspective different to our own.

    • Mark said, on 30/11/2014 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks Nicci. They are that, intelligent creatures with an important function in the Earth Nature machine. They may not be self reflective but they are wonderful little beings none the less, made of earth and sunshine.

  14. rootstribeyoga said, on 30/11/2014 at 4:23 pm

    Excellent. Thank you.

    • Mark said, on 30/11/2014 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks Philipa. That yoga work you do is great, especially for the children. It will serve them well, and beyond their own knowing.

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