Nature's Place

Neon Beeauty

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There isn’t much insect activity in the garden after a hot and dry summer and recent unseasonal heatwave.

The native bee’s nests are devoid of activity. Because they know, without thinking, it’s not a good time to be born right now.

The heat has seriously stressed the flowering plants the bees need for survival and recovery may be a protracted process. If …

But here are a few that came before, magical little bee of neon blue on black. Little beauty bee.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Neon Once More

At first she looked fine, out of the nest and paused, taking stock of her sensible world.

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As all sensible creatures do. Though her sense of things would be limited by her damaged antennae.

Later in the day it was apparent all was not well, still on the mud brick and now covered in dust.

Maybe from her diggings, laying her eggs, or something to do with her damaged appearance.

She was lively enough, for a while, though behaving as if disoriented, wings spread without flight.

And later still she was flagging, unstable flight attempts and always returning to the mud bring nest.

At one point she re-entered a nest hole and ducked from my attentive lens. Then came out again.

One time she failed to take off and hit the floor. Climbing up a skink jumped her and she lay still.

I picked her up and gave her a little water and she was away again. What happened then who knows, turn your back and the world changes. Life moves on …

Nothing has it good all the time. This Neon Cuckoo Bee was having trouble getting its bearings.

Lost one antennae and, it appears, one mandible. Maybe it was in a fight with a BBB.

Maybe it was born that way. Who knows … there are no guarantees in this life.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Neon Signs …

She waits by the entrance to one Blue Banded Bee nest site …

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… where she will be buzzed until she takes some action.

Sometimes she flys off and around the place …

… only to return to another place she can fulfil her nature.

You can’t blame a bee for being a bee …

… whatever kind of bee she is, opportunistic in this case.

… stealing the efforts of the Blue Banded Bees nature.

But a bee doesn’t steal, knowingly taking from another.

She just sees an opportunity and takes it, by her nature.

No point complaining about what can’t be changed.

Best to let it be, be a bee – ho ho …

Then we might be able to let everything else be.

What a world that would bee.

Signs of life … the Neon Cuckoo Bee has taken to the Blue Banded Bee hotel with a gusto.

At first, early summer, one showed up and the BBB’s were agitated by her presence.

Now there are three or four around the house, two I know of to the BBB hotel.

And the BBB’s do chase them but as a reflex, not unduly concerned.

The ever shifting cohort of flies also seem to have their place.

And though there appears to be the usual struggles of living …

amongst the small creatures, they don’t get unhappy.

Cause there’s no problem in beeing.

As long as I don’t think.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Neon Baby

She appeared one day, out of the garden and into the shade where the BBB house is located. Cruising …

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Manoeuvred for some contrast in the background colour. Anything is better revealed by a little contrast.

I saw this BBB emerge from the nest, drop rather. She fell to the ground and tried to fly, eventually away.

After a while I caught the Neon lady in waiting, for a BBB to show her the way, it seemed, to an in-use nest.

Another BBB that didn’t know how to fly straight out of the nest, doing some work on a wing here. He made it too, with a little help.

Waiting by a nest entrance, eventually a BBB came along and entered a different nest. She waited for the BBB to go and entered there.

A little struggler needed a hand to get up high. It’s where they like to start from when there’s difficulty getting airborne.

On the edge, by another nest entrance, she did a lot of waiting. The first Neon didn’t, that I saw anyway. Can’t see everything …

Holding on between efforts, he didn’t recover enough to fly and died in peace on the roof, and not down with the ants that range about.

The Blue Banded Bee house is a hive of activity at different times, cyclical comings and goings. And not just with BBBs.

There are the flies that seem to prey on the bees, chasing them when they approach, and the Neon Cuckoo bee that lays there too.

I wondered when or if a new Neon bee would appear and there she was. I didn’t see her emerge from the BBB house but she is clearly smaller and newer than the last.

And so I waited, for the opportunity to present. They don’t just come and sit for me, it has to be the ‘right’ time, and I have to be ready and present.

New life, it always comes in some form. And the time in between, no time, from whence it comes.

Baby she may be, formidable as her mother all the same.

And it all happens in the space it happens in.

With a clear view, space gives perspective.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look …

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Neon Returns

Blue Banded Bee asleep at night on a twig of suitable size for grasping between mandibles. No insomnia here.

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Tough little creature, the Neon Cuckoo Bee. Resting on the roof of the BBB’s house beneath the stairway.

Here she is surveying the activity around the BBB’s house from the nearest high point, all the better to act from.

Caught in the act, of laying in the BBB’s nest so her own young get a good start. A relaxed exit, for a robber.

Even while the BBB’s were buzzing her she stopped to preen, combing her face. Grooming is high on bee agenda.

By comparison the BBB’s were clearly agitated, entering and exiting the nest with mandibles spread for combat.

Just looking on, from a nearby nest. I think it was doing some excavation work, as the entryway changed shape.

I pass the house of Blue Banded Bees many times some days and see what is going on, which is not much, more often than not.

This time was no different but I stopped a while anyway, to see what may be. There were two BBB’s buzzing a particular entrance.

I got my camera and waited as one agitated BBB went at the doorway, disappeared into the nest, and returned backwards, still agitated.

Then another BBB did the same, so I set up to shoot in case anything appeared from inside the nest, as I have seen other BBB’s come out.

And there she was, Neon Cuckoo, came to the entrance from within and proceeded to preen, giving her head a combing with her front legs.

She was well aware of the apparently furious BBB’s but she was un-phased, being inured to such attentions by best practise of bees.

Instinct doesn’t allow for fear or stress in this being of a Cuckoo Bee, and it doesn’t have a thinking mind to interfere.

Doesn’t worry ‘what if’, stirring useless emotion to cloud its perception.

Simple intelligence, working as a bee.

Whatever works, it is what it is …

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Neon Bandit

The Neon Cuckoo bee resting from her efforts to populate the Blue Banded Bee’s nests in the big mud brick.

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During the day she took to the fern stems I put out for the purpose, and no BBB bothered her while she was there.

This was late afternoon as the sun hit the ground in front of the BBB house, a short window for a lighter background.

Such was her calm I had time for more considered shots, to get some greenery in. Colourful contrast pleases the eye.

Then there’s the plastic roof on the BBB house, perishing now, trusting it will survive the summer. She gets around.

This went on for an hour or so, as she sought to leave her young for the BBB’s to tend, as Cuckoos of all kinds do.

She was unfazed by the BBB’s occasionally buzzing her at her varying resting places, clearly at ease in her being.

She came and went, and I followed along, with the BBB’s a close second. The BBB’s don’t rest on the nest this way.

And then there is the wood that keeps the plastic roof on the BBB’s house, a little weight in case of wind, and rain.

As close as I could get. Though she got to know and accept me as a feature without threat, I still exercised respect.

And then there were these flies, as small as they look, showed interest in some of the BBB’s nests. Feeding perhaps.

Breeding perhaps, I can’t say what they were up to exactly but the possibilities are limited to simple instinctive drive.

And they took to the fern stems instinctively, a place of safety with only one narrow approach to it. It’s all relative.

At a fraction the size of it the last three flies may be the children of this one, also found nearby. Maybe not …

She came back, our Neon Cuckoo Bee. And the BBB’s were busy chasing her away.

But she didn’t mind, and she didn’t give up, dodging the natives in order to lay her eggs.

The BBB house has been very busy this year, and there will be more Neon Cuckoo bees for it.

The way it is, one thing feeds off another, and they’re all very focussed about it, filling the need.

Nature needs to reproduce, plain and simple, and nothing will deter the instinctive will.

Except maybe the will before instinct. Nothing … to write home about though, for now.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Natural Neon …

Cuckoo Bee.

The location and situation generally allowed only a limited approach and time for a few shots in the dead of night.

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Maybe, if she comes back, I can try something different, for better lighting of the very dark black, and more colour in the background.

Every now and then she would shift her position, a little. No fear of her waking in fright, making for the light as BBB’s have done.

Working in a space the size of a Hobbit’s very small cupboard meant some risk of disturbing her. See, she raised her antennae a little.

But all was well, and she took to the skies this morning in fine fettle. She, or a sibling, will be back. It’s what they do in the Earth engine.

Last year I prepped a mud brick as a nest for the Blue Banded Bees that visit the garden. This year they moved in wholesale. And with the BBB comes the Cuckoo, amongst other opportunists.

And what a beautiful opportunist she is. I saw her stalking the mud brick and enter one of the nest holes the BBB makes, so thought I’d provide some roosting spots, to get a few shots.

It seems to be working out, and two more nests are being prepped for next year, different shapes and sizes. These bees have their preferences, maybe I’ll learn something of them.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Dark Neon Beauty

She is a most elusive creature in my experience. I have probably seen only one other of these bees and she was on the move, too fast to track or shoot. When I got back from a week away I went to a few places I know to see if the bees had started to show. I saw roosting Nomads, in numbers, and increasing still, but only one Leafcutter and no Blue Banded bees.

Then, after a few days looking, I saw this little black dot swaying on the grass tops in the wind at dusk and I knew here was something new. I approached slowly so as not to spook the creature and got close enough to see the blue and black beauty she is. But she was wary and took to the air and was lost (to my older eyes) in the clutter of background plants and shadows.

I went away and came back a few times only for the same thing to happen but was pleased to see the perch had been selected; she was coming back to it after being disturbed. So I got up early next morning and arrived before the sun came up and there she was. Quietly, gently I approached from the side I wanted to start shooting from, getting lower as I got nearer, camera ready in hand. And just as I was reaching out to gently grip the stalk of grass off she flew.

Again at dusk, the same day, I went back to the spot and there she was. As I got closer I saw the first Blue Banded Bee of this season and it was buzzing the Neon Cuckoo Bee, literally. The BBB flew up to the face of the NCB and the little dark beauty took no notice. The BBB did this a few times before flying off to its own roost, an indication of their relationship no doubt.

I got down on one knee, a courtesy you could say, and went to work with her for about an hour before the light was gone and I was pleased with the meeting, a privileged encounter you could say.

The next day she was gone and there hasn’t been another. Another season perhaps, who knows.

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Speaking of Dark Beauty, I am reminded of the same essential quality in the people, our mystic or spiritual reality. Even though the world looks to be a violent and cruel place, and real justice as elusive as a NCB on a sunny afternoon, all is right and all is changing.

Even what the world would call a lost cause will bear a fruit that can only add to the good of the whole in time. A lost cause can turn to a noble reality, in time. This is not an easy thing to see.

But once it’s known it’s just a matter of never giving up on that dark beauty, by being awake to it, in the small things. And one day …

There … even in the brightest sunlight, dark beauty.

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Or is it just a little drama, to entertain, while the work is done?

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

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Neon Blue Delight

It was late afternoon on a very wet Macro Day when I noticed this tiny creature, about 5mm long, in the open downstairs bathroom trying to find a way out through the glass window.

To the eye this creature looked dark, with just a hint of blue with the light at the right angle and if seen with care. I often trap creatures I find downstairs, give them a feed and let them go – usually after a few shots if it can be managed. And I don’t release a creature into the night if it would usually be asleep in the dark.

So this one spent the night trapped in a jar with a rose leaf and a little honey. It sleeps with its head down and antennae wrapped under it. In the morning I took a few shots before and as it woke up. In fact it only really woke when I breathed a warm breath on it a few times.

Very quickly it came awake and started twitching those tiny antennae and wandering about and under the leaf. I gave it my finger to climb on and to warm up, which it did. And a few seconds later it took to the air, off to god knows where. To do its ordinary everyday business.

Wonderful little thing. Delightful, to me, little Emerald Cuckoo Wasp.

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