Nature's Place

Bee Life

Hello world … Breaking out of the nest after a long winter, it’s time to get to work. My little brave bee, instinctively …

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Time to stretch out, on the wall of the hotel, orientation time perhaps. The sky lightening behind, it’s a new world.

Spring cleaning, a relative that didn’t get through the winter is pushed to recycling. Thorough little housekeeper bee.

She lines the nest with resin for protection, some gets spilt on the way in, and she enters backwards to lay an egg.

Not quite finished, she goes to sleep the best she can. Not the safest position in a house full of geckos, but she stings … I know.

On her way to replenishing the earth with bees, one on the other in a deep dark chamber, here sealing up the first nest entrance.

And what’s this, one greeting another to the new world, male looking for a mate, or just saying hello. They talk to one another …

And in case anyone thinks a bee is fragile, I’ll have you know she’s fierce as a lion to protect her ways. Gentle too …

The wasp appeared, at first no threat it seems, no ovipositor I see. A male perhaps, or just young. Found below the bee hotel.

Here she is in fuller form, ovipositor held aloft behind, sitting on the hotel wall, listening for the signs that tell where to …

This is where, where else … She found a place to lay her egg, a bees nest clear as day. The sheath of her delivery rises.

And this is how it goes – the bee does her work and the wasp does hers too, so it turns. Everybody has its time …

Some work for resin, others for the meat, each is born of the earth. Mothers all … except the males of course.

Every year the orange tail resin bees wake up with the warming sun and the moisture of spring rain.

These may all be female bees, mostly found by the nest – a hotel made of a log drilled for their use.

Their primary use seems to be to lay eggs, along with a little food bomb for the larva that will bee.

Another use is protection at night, somewhere to sleep away from all the predators in the garden.

The males live and sleep somewhere else in the garden, not too far away but still a mystery.

Once the bee cycle is underway and some eggs are sealed up in the nest a wasp turns up.

She, the wasp, is also laying eggs, in the bees nest. Her young will take advantage …

And so it goes, one thing dependant on another thing, until completion.

An end that is not ‘just’ another beginning.

But a beginning … without end.

Hmmm …

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

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Mother … Again

… and again.

Up close, without the personal … this spider doesn’t rationalise or emotionalise her situation. She is … the act of sitting. Knowing …

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Sitting in expectation, without a thought, as instinct informs her being something will come to this also active living flower.

Infinite variations in posture, in readiness for that something when it comes. An almost meditative occupation, why not … instinctively.

‘What’s that I see above me, come into my arms, let me show you the way of spider dear. A one way exercise, have no fear.’

Oops! No crack in this hard shelled ladybug, to slip in a pointed lesson in survival, not yours. And ladybug went on her way.

No mercy for the unwary though. She came for food for the hive and became food for the spider. Such is life to one, death to another.

And flies do join the banquet, never far from a feast. No more than providing for young yet … to be … you might think her a beast.

Being dead, no good for a bee. Or is death something else than a little body bent to spider queen. Coup de grâce complete.

and again.

She stayed the life of the flower, then moved on to the next one. Pretty soon she was in food again, the more abundant honey bee attending.

I helper her along, so she didn’t have to move far, or rely on wind for direction – casting a thread to the currents is how she travels.

She will probably stay on this one for a while, it having multiple heads still to open. Then the butterfly bush should be in bloom.

We’ll see, nothing is sure but the rising and setting of the sun, as long as there is witness to it.

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

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Morning Glory Purple

At first, buried deep in the flower, supping on the nectar. Then caught it as it emerged over the pollen laden stamen.

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Wandering about in the colour and nourishment it didn’t stay still for long. Big pollen grains for good bee work.

My hand is never far from my subject. It came for the warmth that makes a difference in our winter shade.

Balanced on the edge of the petal, not yet ready for flight, it climbed for who knows what – security.

One other of its kind, on the flowering nicotiana, shy of the camera. Gotta be quick to catch these guys.

I put some old sweet potato in the ground and something else grew as well. The garden often does that, mysteries emerging.

This time it is a lovely morning-glory vine, where the passion-fruit vine used to be. A place for vines it would seem.

A few creatures visit it in its window of sunshine on a cold ‘winter’s’ day, taking what nourishment or shelter they can.

It’s the way of the garden, flowers as beacons to passing travellers, oasis of colour and nectar in man’s jungle.

A chance to live a little longer, in complete accord with life’s desire to live and live again.

How we are, how it is, in these magnificent little robotic selves.

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

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Green Gold Bee 2

A typical nest entrance, fresh diggings on the downward approach – gravity works.

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I saw quite a few of these bees and not one entered the nest backwards, as other bees are seen to do, to lay an egg.

And as far as I could see they always exited head first too, suggesting an excavation allowing them to turn-around.

A youngster maybe, just emerged from underground obviously. Or where did the clay on its back and wing come from.

Compared to the one above this bee looks mature, strong and healthy. Perhaps that’s an egg filled abdomen, big as it is.

Everything dies … and I only saw the one such. No sign of spiders but this nest site would have its predators. Crabs maybe.

Foraging in the daylight can be hazardous for a crab but they know when to run and hide.

An other chapter in the life of the Green Gold Masked Bee, from the edge of the world into deep nature.

It all happens on the edge of a huge coastal mangrove forest, where a tidal creek separates it from the mainland and man’s mind made stuff.

The nest entrance is a comfortable size, and they always go in head first, but then they always come out head first. So, it seems, they have room in there to turn around.

At first I thought they could only be laying their eggs for hatching in the spring, until I saw the one that spent some time cleaning hardened clay from its back. It looks like a youngster to me.

You can see how it uses the hooked feet to scrape at the dirt. It suggests to me either a cave-in or it has just emerged from incubation. It looks smaller too, less full bodied than the others.

And then there was the one dead bee I found. It looks to have a torn wing suggesting struggle of some kind. Maybe the crab kind.

Just below the nest site are the homes of small crabs that peep out and occasionally risk a journey across the dark mud.

They are shy creatures, not comfortable being photographed, but they can be tricked into it.

Things to do, lives to live … the comings and goings, remind me of … ways to be.

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

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Green Gold Bee

After a while a little luck, it landed on my stick, the easier for me to get a few shots.

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This certainly qualifies as bee activity. Regurgitating liquid takes its full attention, so it doesn’t notice me.

Once it lands and has something to do, after a little time it becomes absorbed and exclusively focussed.

Preening is one of the natural creatures favourite activities. Here ‘wiping’ its feet down its abdomen to the rear – combing.

Caught a little sunshine on the eye, refracting to the colours of the rainbow. A little magical sunlight in the lens.

There’s a place along the way, an opening onto a tidal creek, where people sometimes fish, and birds call loudly after a while.

I sometimes stop there to have a look at the water passing, and anything else that might be, small black crabs peeping from dark holes.

Today, as I came to the edge and looked down I saw a swarm of small bees flashing green in the afternoon sun, flying to the bank beneath my feet.

On closer inspection I could see they were each disappearing into a small hole in the clay, many diggings still visible, at and above the high tide mark.

I stood and looked for a while to see what was happening, and if there was any opportunity for a few shots of these fast moving new-to-me non-stop bees.

Camera at the ready to move in for a shot, I positioned myself and waited to see if any would land on my left hand as I held it outstretched in the sun.

After a while standing still one bee then another landed and did what bees often do, sat and rested, preened and blew ‘bubbles’, but not on my hand.

Instead they started landing on the stick I had set standing in the mud, the one I usually have with me and use for so much besides just a stick.

After a while in the hot sun, bothered now by clouds of tiny midges – you have to endure a little hell for a little gold, one presented.

And another … so I went to work, the easiest part of this particular shoot-out, and took what angles and focus were afforded.

These are some of the best … of this metallic green and yellow masked bee … so far.

Now, if only … but if can never be.

Time’s up … for now.

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

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Young Bee On Yellow

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Late one hot sunny afternoon I was watering the garden and noticed it stopped on the flower for a while as the wind died down.

It seemed comfortable enough and didn’t object to a spray of misted water from the hose, which quickly dried off.

I left it there to forage into the twilight and by morning it was gone, likely into the space-ways at first light.

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

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Keeping It Simple …

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Still …

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look
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Bee – Blue Banded Beauty

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Keeping it simple …

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The Last Bee

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Before : resting undisturbed.

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Bigger than she looks.

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Not a comfortable mouthful for a night-time predator.

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And after : back to sleep.

Definitely the last Blue Banded Bee for this year. I have been trying to provide enough for her to survive but I think the cold may get her in the end. I even have a white bowl out with a blue sponge in the middle of it soaked in sugar solution, like a giant flower, so she doesn’t have to fly far first thing on a cold morning to fuel up – haven’t seen her take it yet.

The shots were taken in the dead of a cold night with a reflector under her, so there was less shadow below. It was just a piece of paper attached to the lens by elastic, a bit clumsy really but it worked to a point. I bumped her with it and she protested by spreading her legs that way, as if to say ‘I’m a bigger mouthful than I first looked, and you could choke on my sharp pointy bits’.

They do that when disturbed at night, if it’s cold enough that they don’t fly off to the light, make themselves look bigger. Many creatures do it, cause themselves to appear bigger than they are, or an uncomfortable mouthful, until the threat is gone.

It’s a working strategy people also employ when feeling threatened. Nature … it’s our nature after all.

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