Pollenface!

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Honeybee loaded up on a Gaillardia Mesa™ Peach

This is one of my favorite shots from last summer. She’s a complete mess and must be in some kind of bee bliss. At least that’s what I’d like to think.

In addition to her outright beauty (and her covered face), a couple of things jump out at me. First that pollen basket is packed! She’s loaded up. Second, notice the pollen on her eye. It’s floating on the tiny hairs there. See the “Hairy Eyeball” post below for a discussion on that. It will end up in the basket, eventually, as she grooms herself.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this particular flower – Gaillardia Mesa™ Peach – if you keep checking back. Besides being gorgeous itself, it is a magnet for all kinds of pollinators. It starts blooming here in the Rockies in mid-summer and just doesn’t stop until a hard frost. And it’s such an interesting background/foreground/midground to shoot at. Complex and varied and beautiful. I’m pretty sure it would look good in your garden, too.

I just love this shot. So many elements of quintessential “honeybee in a flower garden”.

Filthy Bumble on a Meadow Blazing Star

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Bumble on a Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis)

The Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis) is an incredible plant for attracting pollinators. I look forward to it blooming every year. The pollen mess all over that bumble is Liatris pollen. White, not purple. Seems odd to me, but what do I know? This variety gets pretty tall – up to five feet. And when it blooms (late summer/early fall), it’s just covered with blossoms – nearly bottom to top. My only criticism of the thing is it moves some even in the slightest breeze – and it’s tough enough finding a bee that will hold still… 😉

Honeybee on a Geranium Called Rozanne®

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Honeybee on Geranium Rozanne®

Love the eyes and face and tongue on this one. The geranium is called Rozanne® – and I’m not sure what I think about that ®. Guess it’s the way of the world. The geranium is fairly aggressive in that it spreads out however and wherever it can. But it blooms like mad – and persistently. The bees love it. Sometimes, when it’s in full bloom, it’s just throbbing with bee life. Humming. A good one for attracting bees.

Bonus – Hang Five!

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Thread-waisted Wasp Hanging from an Iris

Hang five? More like two or three? The Thread-waisted Wasp is an inadvertent pollinator. And at the rate they move around (they’re very hard to photograph), my guess is that they get a good bit of pollinating done. Although they do feed on nectar, they also eat other insects. This one is consuming what looked like a very young grasshopper (for which I shed no tear).

The Old Hairy Eyeball

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Honeybee on an Aster

Well, almost a hairy eyeball. But more at: hair between parts of the eye. But first…five eyes total. Three simple ones on the top of the head (called ocelli). And then two compound ones on either side of the head. Although you cannot see the simple ones in this photograph, they’re pretty clear in the shot from Feb. 3.

The compound eyes are made of an array of lenses called ommatidia. And there is specialized hair between those lenses. Some say that the hair between the lenses detects wind direction and speed – which is apparently useful for navigation. Citation needed, I think. Might be a myth. And they sure have a lot of other hair elsewhere… A team at Georgia Tech made the case that the hair keeps pollen out of the eyes. Or, better, allows for collecting and then removing the pollen. That makes more sense to me. And also fits with what I’ve observed (pollen mess/cleaning/grooming). Stay tuned for some shots of filthy, filthy bees.

Here’s the eye in that pic at 100 percent. I won’t often break out a photo, but this was too interesting not to.

Not quite a “hairy eyeball”. But hair, nonetheless, at the intersections of the hexagonal ommatidia.

This one is on an aster. Here in the foothills of the Rockies, asters begin to bloom in late summer and continue until it freezes hard. They’re often one of the last plants making new blossoms as the season winds down. And the bees just love them. Especially the honeybees – as well as some of the natives. They’re a great late-season flower for pollinators.

Notice that she’d gotten into something else before. That larger pollen on her head and back. Looks like maybe a Rose of Sharon or a Winecup?

Parenthetically, I just printed this shot on acrylic at 16″ x 20″. In a word, stunning! Not typical wall art, I know, but wow. It really pops. She’s got gorgeous eyes!

Golden Bumble on a Giant Larkspur

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Golden Bumble (Bombus fervidus) on a Giant Larkspur (Consolida ajacis)

Not all that much to say about this one. Just a Golden Bumble ( Bombus fervidus) on a Giant Larkspur (Consolida ajacis). Lots of pollen, though. And interesting how she’s got her head jammed in there pulling herself deeper with her claws. Seems the Larkspur was made for just for that. Normally, I like to include the eye in a bee pic. Seems if the eye is in good focus, it’s a good shot. But this one was compelling to me – eye or no.

Sweat Bee on a Zinnia

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Sweat Bee – Orange-legged Furrow Bee (Halictus rubicundus) – on a Zinnia

In what might be a taxonomic trainwreck, I’m going to tentatively call this one a Sweat Bee. More specifically, an Orange-legged Furrow Bee (Halictus rubicundus). And it’s on a zinnia.

If I cannot identify something (and you’re sure about what it is) – or if I’ve misidentified something and you can set me straight, please click on the Leave a Comment button there on the left side and tell me what you know.

I may have sneaked over to the neighbor’s yard for this shot.

Just a Bumble on a Sunflower

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Bumblebee (Bombus something?) on a Volunteer Sunflower

Mercifully short post today. It’s a dirty-faced bumblebee on a volunteer sunflower. I never know where the flowers are going to come up, but they’re a welcome addition to our gardens in the late summer. And the bees and other pollinators love them.

CANCELLED – Palisade (Colorado) International Honeybee Festival – Mark the Date! – April 18, 2020

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Honeybee on Cone Flower (Echinacea) – Taken at Ogden (UT) Botanical Gardens 

I’ll be in Colorado on Saturday, the 18th of April, 2020 for the 12th Annual Palisade International Honeybee Festival. You can learn more about it on their website: http://palisadehoneybeefest.org/

They also have a FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/Palisade.International.Honeybee.Festival/

Looks to be an educational, fun, edifying event. A great way to spend a Saturday. It’s free to attend and will go all day. There will be live music, art, crafts, and other goods for sale – as well as a variety of food from local restaurants and other vendors.

I’ll have a booth there displaying and selling some of my better photographs – mostly of bees. In addition to the traditional matted and framed photographs, I’ll have prints on metal, canvas, and acrylic. I hope you find some space on your wall for a photograph or two… (Note: just picked up my first prints on acrylic, metal, and canvas. Wow.)

Jean Tally, the Volunteer Coordinator of the honeybee festival, has been incredibly helpful to me as I prepare for this event. After years (don’t ask how many) of shooting, this will be my first foray into sharing my stuff. With Jean at the helm, it’s a lock that it will be well-run and worthwhile.

Also, while you’re in the area, check out the Blue Pig Gallery ( 101 West 3rd Street there in Palisade, CO). They’ve got some wonderful – no, stunning – art there from local artists. Worth a stop for sure. Kay Crane, the gallery director, has been wonderfully generous to me with both her time and advice. Have a look. And on the evening of the 17th (the Friday before), the Blue Pig Gallery will be hosting a kick-off reception.

One of the photographs I’ll have to offer there is today’s bee of the day. It’s one of my favorites and it looks really nice printed. It’s a Honeybee on Cone Flower (Echinacea) that I shot last July at the Ogden (UT) Botanical Gardens. (And that’s worth a look if you’re ever in Ogden. They do a really neat job there.)

Hope to see you in Colorado!