Nature's Place

Friday …

Just the one sleeping on a tendril hanging from the fern above the Orange Tail Resin Bee hotel.

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S/he started to buzz and appeared irritated with flash so I pulled back for it to withdraw to darkness once more.

Ok, just one more … from front and below, bee hotel in background. Everybody asleep … for now.

The Blue Banded Bee is much about the garden through the day. Less visible at night though.

The flash can waken them and they fly to the nearest light, not good for BBB. So only a few shots for now.

Maybe when it gets colder and they are more sluggish, and I can find them, I’ll get some more.

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

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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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Spider Mates

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A delicate operation, he delivering his seed while avoiding becoming a nourishing meal.

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Daring fellow … perhaps instinctively balanced between survival and reproduction imperatives.

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She, being relocated on a stick as too close to the orange tail resin bee hotels.

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He is content in his own web, waiting on an unlucky visitor to the butterfly bush. Gotta keep his strength up.

St Andrews Cross spider they’re called. The big colourful female and the relatively small male.

She sits in her web unmoving, he approaches from the other side, the web a barrier and carrier, wary for his life.

Some spiders eat their suitors after mating, food for potential spiderlings, these are probably one of those. Nature is savagely practical.

They reside in different parts of the garden, within their own webs, sitting without anxiety for what may be. No thought for any past or future.

Some spiders must die of hunger this way, become food for another predator, or travel for food and a mate, as they do, fearlessly though no doubt instinctively cautious.

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

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Masked Bee

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Click the pictures for the bigger – and better – version.

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Twice this year these bees have presented. They are usually too shy for a shot but circumstances dictate. And then there’s luck, what nature, or what’s it called behind, will …

The one on my finger was rescued from the water, of which there are various locations in the garden. The other landed on top of one of the bee hotels and set to preening itself, out of the way of the passing populace, some of which are predators.

A small window on the life of one of my garden friends. A passing pleasure, watching nature’s delightful little robots.

I bet they age just like me and you.

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

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Clinging to the rescue straw.

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Catching the breeze on the edge of a leaf.

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Jeez, that was close mate. You ok?

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Don’t fall off now, that wind is strong.

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No worries, just catching it to dry the wings.

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Ahh, it’s nice here in the warm sun.

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Thanks for the help mate.

The rain came and with it the ready bees in the hotel under the veranda burst out into the world of sense, colour, scent, form, sound and the touch of another.

They wait for a few days after enough rain so there would be conditions conducive to survival, moisture and food in the form of flowers. And of course resin to build and seal their nests with – in the case of the Orange Tail Resin Bees.

It had been a while since there were many of these bees flying around the garden, it being so hot and dry I suspect as cause, and then I started seeing them. One here and there, and then I went looking around the hotels and started finding them floating in the watering cans – I leave them sitting for the chlorine to evaporate.

Can’t have that, so started a rescue mission and retrieved five or six from a watery end over a couple days, two pairs – my early morning sleeplessness as advantage. Set out some water they can land on and take off from, and no more bees in the cans, so far. This is during the last week, after I got out of hospital and was supposed to be doing nothing at all.

Hospital was a rescue of a different kind, really. A Dr Charles Nankivell (surgeon @ Redlands Hosp) headed a team that I like to refer to as stellar. In fact my experience of the process from reception to discharge was that. Only the good shone for me, the other didn’t make it in, though it did knock.

In ‘a way’ the surgical team get the easy end, after introductions the patient is usually drugged to numbness to one degree or another, though I suspect they have their difficult ones, stressed out at the prospect of being under the knife is probably not uncommon.

The nurses that manage the aftermath are exceptional creatures too, each in their own way demonstrating quiet efficiency while doing the job of a diplomat, keeping everyone in the game, regardless of disposition.

It was a powerful experience, surrender of my life into the hands of strangers, and the care and kind professionalism with which I was handled …

… as if I were a baby loved.

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

She’s back … At the beginning of September this year I went out into the garden to have a look around, it was near enough 1.00am. There hadn’t been much to shoot and it occurred to me to take the camera with me, not unusual that.

And there she was, the first place I looked, sitting in meditative pose atop a small daisy bud. A tiny ghost spider, bright against the dark of the night.

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Since then she has come and gone across the garden, from daisy to butterfly bush to sunflower, chia, coneflower and round again. Through torrential rain, baking sun and howling winds …

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Every time I see her she has grown, and every now and then I come across pockets of young crab spiders, some hers I suspect. Some numbers dead in a tray under one of the bee hotels.

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Currently she is resident on the yellow butterfly bush, one leg missing and bolder than ever – age and experience showing. She lets me get very close now without much sign of alarm or resistance.

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I trust she lives a while longer, fulfilling her purpose of nature’s intelligent instinctive desire, albeit unconsciously, and we will meet again in the garden.

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All the good is in the garden, or the garden is all the good, an other time and place … inside.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click a picture for a closer look
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Daylight Robbery

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The bee hotels I have under the veranda, where they are protected from the heat of the sun and the torrential summer rain, are often under attack by other creatures looking for advantage.

Here is one parasitic wasp laying into the nest of a Orange Tail Resin Bee, you can just see the ovipositor behind the middle legs in two pictures. Through it she deposits an egg which feeds on the bee larva and probably the store left for its initial growth.

It’s the way of nature that one thing depends on another for its sustenance. When one piece of the picture is missing there is a deficiency but things invariably balance out in the big picture – just as well for us most destructive humans.

And then there was light … as one more wasp is created, by design.

A wonderfully mysterious nature.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click the pix for a closer look
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Bee-haviour

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

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Life In The Green

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Carrying a can of water down the bare earth path between the giant ferns at the corner of the house, leaves high on both sides, I sensed movement as a Praying Mantis came into view. I stopped to look, eye to eye, and offered a finger which she mounted and I carried her over to the other giant fern leaf.

She took a few strides into the dark green jungle before she swivelled her big eyed head back at me and said in her sharp clickity little voice “Thanks Mark.”

‘No problem’, said I. But no, I didn’t have my camera handy. It wasn’t one of those encounters. Was and wasn’t …

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This might have been one, or two, of her many babies that appeared a couple weeks ago on the deck.

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The flowers are coming along nicely, drinking a lot of water in their skyward stretch, a lot of leg work too – my legs. Hand watering a big-ish garden is a good way to get to know what’s going on in the greenery. Notably, not a lot – as I recall last year same time.

The Carpenter Bee is still coming and going, a few bees are visiting – but not to the hotels at all, lots of little green plant bugs, some flies and the occasional spider.

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He must have dropped in fully grown – climbed a tall tree, probably saw my bright yellow patch that instinctively registered ‘food’ and cast a strand to the wind in search of direction to pastures new. He’s a beauty, gentle faced and quiet of nature, a flower or ambush spider – consummate predator.

They often take on the colouring of their surrounds, camouflage to better hunt the visiting insects, collectors of pollen and drinkers of nectar – good in evading other hunters too.

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Morning is best time to catch a meal on a flower. An unlucky bee, early to the feast, lucky spider, and green bug snacks.

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And just for the show …

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Pausing every now and again, just to sense what is the nature now. Blue sky, trees blowing in the wind, Galah’s ripping up the seed pods of the African Tulip, smell of the wet earth, colour, sound, form – a simple pleasure. Feeding the winged visitors at days end.

Doves, Indian Mynahs, the Butcherbird and Pied Magpie. All with young ones to feed and be taught to fend for themselves, take a bit of bread in the late afternoon. You can see the teaching going on, the way things are.

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The only one I could get of him today. Others lost in a broken computer.

When the cat, Djinn, shows himself, what a commotion from the screeching Mynahs. He just sits unmoved, on the edge of stressed, so long as they can’t actually get at him.

In sense, instinctively …

© Mark Berkery … CLICK any picture to enlarge in a new tab …

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