Wool Carder Bee on the Sempervivum Blossom

While it’s true that this one is not native, I’m kind of fond of it. The males are a little bigger than the females and are pretty nutty when it comes to being territorial. They’re really fond of the hens and chicks (sempervivum) blossoms…and really do have that “birds and bees” drive pretty deeply seeded in them, as it were. They’re a little rough to photograph for two reasons. First, they don’t often stay long on a single blossom. So if I’m not quick, they’re gone before I can click. And, second, they don’t fly as predictably as the honey bees or the bumbles. They’re more like hummingbirds in their randomness. But they’re really neat looking…especially their eyes. And the pinks and greens of the hens and chicks make for some nice shots. Oh, and please ignore that black cat hair there in the bottom of the pic. The cats seem to own the semp beds around here.

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Two on the Sempervivum

This one is a little obnoxious to look at. But seldom do I get two in focus. And never two wool carder bees. They’re so quick and don’t sit long. More pink and green. Seems to be a theme this year. And try not to notice the cat hair in the middle of the shot. The cats seem to think that the semp beds are their own domain.

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Wool Carder Bee – Defending the Hens and Chicks

This bee has a lot of nicknames around here – all of them unprintable. Really territorial, aggressive little thing. Especially the males. But this is a neat shot of a male in flight. Look closely at that neat eye on him.

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Semp Blossoms with a Bumble

As far as semp blossoms go, this is a strange one. It doesn’t open nearly as far and the bees spend very little time on any one blossom. It’s also such a light color compared – so it always looks a little blown out in the photos. Its texture is different, too…thicker and less delicate. But it seems to be throwing pollen now and the bumbles enjoy it. Guess that’s another difference, too, in that the bumbles spend little to no time on the other types of semps.

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Wool Carder Bee in the Hens and Chicks

This shot is probably a lot less about the bee and more about the beauty and complexity of the hens & chicks blossoming. Apparently, aficionados aren’t all that fond of the blooms – they tend to like the rosettes better and often see the blooms as an annoyance. But…the leafcutters especially like them – notsomuch the honeybees, but there are pollinators on them when they do bloom. And I’m a big fan. Really like the shapes they make.

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Wool Carder Bee In-flight over the Hens and Chicks

This one’s from late July of 2020. Really busy shot, but lots of neat colors. And I really like the hens & chicks blossoms. And when they fade, their stalks and dried-up flowers leave really great shapes in the gardens.

The honeybees don’t seem too interested in the hens & chicks, but the wool carder bees and the leafcutters do battle over their pollen and nectar. Rough to get good shots of them, though. They’re really fast and they don’t stay in once place for very long.

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From the Family Megachilidae

Megachilidae – unsure of genus/species – on a Sempervivum bud

I’m not much of a taxonomist yet. Just a guy with some cameras. But I suspect I’ll get better with that over time. This one is some kind of Megachilidae for sure – unsure of genus/species. I’m pretty certain this little one is female (check out her left rear-most leg and notice the corbiculae – the pollen basket. Males don’t have those.). She’s on a Sempervivum (commonly known as Hens and Chicks) bud. Yep, the semps bloom. And they can be beautiful.

This particular bee is really territorial – downright ornery. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been lining up a shot of one bee or another on some blossom and one of these guys has bombed, full speed, into my intended subject. And not to be indelicate (cover the kids’ eyes, please), but the males of this species are, um, pretty adept at non-consensual birds-and-bees stuff – both on an intra- and inter-species level.

Kevin Vaughn has written a very worthwhile book on Hens and Chicks. It’s really accessible and is a good, instructive read if you’re interested in these amazing plants: Sempervivum: A Gardener’s Perspective of the Not-So-Humble Hens-and-Chicks (That’s an amazon link, but any bookseller can order it for you.) They’re really neat little plants and over time you’ll see a number of them in my photographs here.

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