Friday, September 4, 2015

Buzzz...

Working out in the garden one afternoon recently I caught sight of something I hadn't seen before: a flying creature, bigger than the average bee but smaller than a hummingbird.  I ran to get my camera, only half expecting to find it when I returned.  It was still there but moved from the Cuphea to the Leucophyllum when I got too close.

This is the first time in my recollection that the Leucophyllum laevigatum (Chihuanhuan sage), planted almost 3 years ago, has bloomed

Irritated by me and my camera, it moved again, landing on the Hebe speciosa.



Its hum assured me it was a bee but I had no idea what kind.  The big green eyes and orange color helped me to identify it on-line.  It's a male Valley Carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipunta), one of the largest bees in the United States.  The male has no stinger but it can behave aggressively around its nest, trying to scare off visitors.  I haven't seen any sign of the smaller, black females in my garden or a nest, which the carpenter bees build by boring into trees.

Unlike me, my brother has no problem getting good pictures of bees (or other creatures).  You can find his "best of the bees" series on his blog, The Odd Sock, here.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

19 comments:

  1. Holy Cow! That might be the largest bee I've ever seen. Good for you for working to capture it's image and even better that you managed to identify it so promptly. Given its size and striking coloration, I suppose it wasn't easily confused with most bees, eh?

    That is simply amazing. I'm betting with your wonderful variety of blossoms on offer, you'll be seeing a lot of pollinators once "word" gets out.

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    1. I had no clue as to the bee's identity but all I did is Google "large orange bee with green eyes" and bingo! I also note that my brother had identified the same bee in his post but of course I didn't remember that when I first saw the creature.

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  2. That is so cool! What an interesting and beautiful bee.

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    1. I thought he looked pretty cuddly too. However, I was dismayed that, when I ran a search under the bee's common name, half of that I turned up on the first page were posts by exterminators.

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  3. Whoa. We used to get carpenter bees nesting in our wooden shed back in Massachusetts, they used to freak me out with their hovering. Every once in a while a hummer buzzes me loudly, and that can be startling. This guy is actually quite handsome, with all that golden fur.

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    1. He was quite round, which threw me off on first glance, as did his striking orange color. I didn't get a really good look at those huge green eyes until I pulled up the photos.

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  4. Wow...that is one mighty bee for sure; it looks like it's on steroids...maybe it wandered off from Venice Beach :-)
    It is an amazing capture!

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    1. With his big green eyes and orange fur, he might get a second look an Venice Beach ;)

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  5. The Odd Sock, what a great name for a blog. That bee is amazing. I thought you were going to say you saw a hummingbird or sphinx moth. I will have to find out if those bees ever venture up this far. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

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    1. Thanks Grace. I wondered if it could be a sphinx moth at first but it was too fat!

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  6. That is one chunky bee! I like his tawny fur... and it's great to see your Leucophyllum is blooming!
    Re: the exterminators - when we sold our home in Kansas City we were legally required to have a pest service spray the house for carpenter bees; they are considered a structural menace like termites... :( This is certainly a different variety than the type we had then!

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    1. I think it is probably a different species than your Kansas City variety, Amy, but I'm on the lookout for nests in the house nonetheless.

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  7. My sister has had the females in her garden (they are quite large, too)--we are quite charmed by them and their friendly behavior.

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    1. The bees here are mostly friendly, Emily - I walk through and work along pathways with bees busy in the thyme growing between the paving stones and have never been stung. Now the wasps are another mater.

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  8. Wow, we have big bumblebees over here I Britain, but I don’t think we have anything like this here :-) Beautiful colours on it too!

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  9. I gather that these bees are relatively common here, Helene, but it's the first time I've ever seen one.

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  10. An orange bee! How appropriate that a California bee is the color of the desert. We have the Eastern carpenter bee here, which is easily mistaken for a Bumblebee. By the way, your brother's bee photos are amazing!

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  11. A very beautiful bee he is too. What a gorgeous colour.

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