"What does this have to do with bees?" , you ask. Well it just so happens that when we arrived at the place, my youngest son found some bees. The site is littered with boulders and large rocks. It is very unusual for this area which is why my wife likes it. I secretly thinks she tells her friends we vacationed in the mountains.
As kids do, the first thing they did was start climbing all over the rocks. There is one in particular that they love to climb on so they raced to it. When they go there my youngest said "Stay away from there! There are bees everywhere!". Of course, I had to go look at them.
I have never seen a ground dwelling bee before and was amazed at how they dug their little tunnels and made the entrances. There were several hundred entrances and quite a few of them were being used. I was right up on them and they just ignored me. So I snapped some pictures. There were really neat to watch.
I didn't know anything about these bees so I forwarded my pictures to Rusty of Honeybeesuite.com (listed as one of my favorite sites). She did all the foot work for me and actually did a post on her site about the bees I found. Now Rusty is a wealth of bee knowledge and I rely on her for actually learning things about bees and beekeeping. She has a real site and server and there is tons of good information about beekeeping on there. One of the things I like most about her is she is not afraid to experiment to try to make her bees happier and more productive. I use a lot of her information. Check it out if you are interested in bees, pollinators in general, or actual beekeeping. Oh, and here is the post that made me famous http://www.honeybeesuite.com/and-now-chimney-bees/. I'll sign autographs late.
Rusty's hard work and perseverance paid off for me as now I can just read her post and pass on the info. Thanks Rusty.
The bees we found are called Chimney Bees. They are much larger than honey bees but smaller than carpenter bees, at least the ones I have seen. Also their abdomen is hairy where a carpenter bee's is furry. The dig tunnels in clay type vertical walls and make an entrance that looks somewhat like a chimney. They are solitary bees that live in a community. Seeing them flying all over the place and finding their own nest is really neat to see. I had a lot of fun observing them. If you want to know more please see Rusty's post on her site. She is definitely more of a teacher than me. I consider myself a mere chronicler of my personal mishaps.
However, I will share some original pictures that Rusty did not. So you are seeing virgin territory. Well sort of. Rusty did get to see all the pictures and she chose the ones she wanted to post.
Here you can see a bee digging a new home. The clay is grey because she uses a secretion to soften it and smooth the inside.
A view of many tunnels.
Bees vs ants. I tried to get rid of the ants. Notice the pollen on the rear legs.
Ok, maybe not all of these are first posts. I likes this one. I shows the entire community.
Coming in for a landing.
Home sweet home.
Top view of a captured specimen. It later flew back to it's home.
Front of previous bee.
Air delivery of pollen. She puts the pollen in the tunnels with the eggs so they have food when they hatch.
After chilling this bee, I placed it on a dark rock to help warm it back up. Notice the tattered wings. She is an older bee.
Chilling them allows me to take good pictures without undue harm to the bee.
Next time, my first extraction.