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Bees

Walking trails in the Center

 

The Australian outback is an amazing world of contrast:  red and black cliffs, dry desert landscape with water-filled gorges, prickly spiky plants with  soft colourful flowers, beautiful birds and their loud calls.  I was lucky enough to call Australia my home when I was a child and always look forward to going back, seeing my family and having another look at the land.  This year, I spent quite a bit of my holidays in Australia’s Center.  I wanted to check out more of the land and walking is a great way of doing it.  We bought our food and water from the town of Alice Spring and went walking along a number of different trails.
 
 
Depending on the light, cliffs are either red, burnt orange
purple or varying co.lours in between.
Honey bee colony on a cliff in the Center.

We saw quite a bit of wild life including kangaroos and lots of birds.  There were very few insects around because night time temperatures were around freezing a lot of the nights.  I was pleasantly surprised though  when Matt showed me a honey bee colony.  Matt told me he had seen them at this location before.  It  was about 30 feet up on a cliff.  Honey bee comb attached to an open cliff would be a rare sight in Canada, but in Desert country it is the perfect place.  There is very little rain to speak of so a colony does not need protection from the rain.    Since it had rained recently, trees and shrubs were showing off their bloom.  This of course means food for  honey bees.

 
Gum tree flowers with a foraging honey bee.
Hakia flowers provide lots of nectar for birds called Honey-eaters
River beds and cliffs provide great habitat for all kinds

of wildlife including lizards, cliff dwelling birds and hawks.

 

In the next little while, I will be adding a few more blogs of my trip.  You can imagine the number of photos I took!  Have a great summer!
 
 
 

 

 
 

This beautiful and wonderfully scented rose is a mega-attractant to bees.

 A old variety that has a great capacity for nectar production.  It was quite amazing to see so many bumble bees in  one flower. It was like they were standing in line for some nectar.  Bumble bees were so busy getting into the flower they took no notice of the photographer.
This rose bush stands about 4 feet tall.

This rose is so attractive to bumble bees that at one
point there were 6 bees inside this one flower.

More bees in this rose.

Two bumble bees ready for flight.
This is a large new queen that will be
hibernating over the winter.
Joe S. from Burnaby showed me his ‘bumble bee house’.  He told me he always has swallows and chickadee nests up and often they are used by the birds.  And ever so often the chickadee nests are used as a bumble bee nest.  So this year, he asked around if anyone had an old chickadee nest, to please pass it on to him.  He received one placed it in an old chickadee nest, and bingo, the bees arrived.  Chickadee nests have quite a lot of hair in them, and he believes this might be the attractant, like a mouse nest.  I am going to try this, but first I need a chickadee nest.
One guard, checks out the photographer. The splatter pattern
 on the outside of the box is the feces of the bumble bee.

To make the box more to their liking, the bees even
plugged up the large crack at the front of the box.

This is one of my favorite flowers!  Dandelions are a welcome color in the spring and they are a great source of both nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.  

Most gardeners believe dandelion flowers are a nuisance weed and therefore it has to be removed from their green lawn.  


If a gardener provides lots of flowers, more bees are in the garden and it generally means better pollination for fruit trees.




This honey bee (left hand side) and mason bee are too busy feeding on a dandelion flower to notice
the photographer Dave M.  Port Alberni, BC.

 

Kathy- Langley, BC sent me these photos of a bumble bees nesting in a bird house last spring. 

This is not an uncommon occurrance.  Bumble bees will nest in the ground, in a wall, in a bird house or other structure that will keep the weather out.  Bumble bees nest within insulation, grass or other similar materials.

Birds bring nesting materials like moss and grasses into their bird house and leave after their young have hatched. 

“When you see them up close they have an incredible amount of pollen on their back legs.  The opening into the bird  house is 1 1/4″ so you can see how huge they are.”

 
Underneath the moss is a bumble bee colony.  One bumble bee guard is walking on the surface of the colony.



This is a guard- watching out for predators.




Bumble bee on the left is cooling the colony with its wings.  The bumble bee on the right seems to be ready to go and gather more pollen and nectar for the young bees.




Coming in for landing.




Resting after a long flight.




Making room for a larger colony by removing excess moss material.



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