Sleepy Bee

Recently, after a spate of warmer temperatures and before the onslaught of a dry cold front, I was out in my back garden playing catch-up with some of my garden’s needed tasks.  My main goal was to clean and refill the bird baths, which I had recently neglected.   Sheesh, they were nastier than I would have suspected, it being January and cool-ish.

As I started to scrub-a-dub-dub the one concrete bath in the garden (which is a bird favorite) I noticed a small, metallic sweat bee in the bowl, crawling just along the water line, upwards, in search of dry concrete.   I’m confident that the bee is a member of the Halictidae family of bees, but was surprised to see him in mid-January.  While my honeybees are active throughout winter on the warmer, sunnier days, the native bees are scarce, with the exception of the Blue orchard bees, which don’t emerge until February.  This little fella sported a shiny blue-green coat and was smaller than the Blue orchards, so I’m sure it was one of the gorgeous sweat bees common during the growing season.

I’m glad I chose that particular time to clean out the bird baths.

I let him crawl on my hand, eventually transferring the cold, wee, wet bee to a blowsy leaf of Drummond’s wild ruellia. 

He immediately crawled down into the center of the shrub, latched and snuggled onto empty sepals.

I watched the bee for a bit, thinking he would move somewhere else, but he didn’t; I moved on to my next chore. Several times as the afternoon proceeded, I popped by to check on the bee, but he never moved from his napping spot.   I think after his brush with drowning, he was exhausted.

Sleepy bee.

I remembered the bee in late morning of the following day and there he was, snoozing away.   By afternoon though, the bee was gone, presumably having moved along, by wings or legs, I don’t know.   I didn’t see him again.   

Sweat bees are ground nesters, so I wonder:  did this guy crawl under some decaying garden detritus until spring light and warmth awakes him to feeding and mating?  Or, was his life toward its end, rescue from the bird bath notwithstanding?

Either way, there will be more of his kind soon enough and the flowers in my garden will be ready.

22 thoughts on “Sleepy Bee

  1. They really are pretty little things. I can not remember if I have ever seen them but I think that I have. We surely do need all of the pollinators. There were not many honey bees coming to my little combo vegetable and flower spot last year. The laws have now changd so that bee keeping is now legal again in my town. I am so glad for the bees and the bee keepers.

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    • They’re beautiful. I’m sure you have them around, but they’re shy and one really has to look for them to see them.

      I’m glad your town has allowed beekeeping; I’m surprised that it was once banned, but then again…:)

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      • Just want you to know that I found some B. Cherry for $4 I think- that is what I paid. Bonnie’s Greenhouse. One of the workers said it would freeze here to the ground and return in the spring. Just like what I think you wrote happens to yours in a hard freeze. The only draw back for me is that it takes a long time to bear fruit and I might not live long enough to see that happen. But if I am lucky I will make to 90 or maybe a few years past. I am trying hard to be as healthy as possible.

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      • Good for you! Barbados cherry is a little slow at the start, but it’s beautiful, once established. Wishing you many years of good health and good gardening!

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  2. I love your attention to the little things, Tina. I once read a writing by John Fowles where he was carping against the “long tramps” and distant landscapes that many people seem to love and said that what interested him most was the “odd corner” of a garden, the particularity of nature at one’s feet…being able to touch it and know it in all its scales. That’s how I feel too.

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    • Thanks–I think I’ve just learned that there’s this whole universe in my garden. Until I started to notice these little things, well, I didn’t see them. I’ll admit though, I was surprised to see this one, this time of year. Something to keep an eye for, in the future.

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  3. I was spending time last night trying to figure out a couple of bees I found working away down at the refuge. I finally decided one was a southern carpenter bee, and the other clearly was a native: probably a bumblebee of some sort, although I couldn’t get a decent view of its hindquarters to figure out the fuzzy pattern. Your poor little one probably was exhausted. I have been finding the occasional dead bee on the boats or docks, though. I need to examine the next one I find. Leaf-cutters are a good bet, since they love to build nests in the nooks and crannies of the boats.

    I had a lizard minus part of its tail on my patio wall last week. It never moved, for several days. I’d never seen one so black. I just left it alone, since I knew it wasn’t dead — it kept moving up the wall, about an inch per day. Finally, I found it on the concrete below. I thought it might have lost its grip, except that it had changed back to brown and black. When I tried to pick it up, I discovered it was quite alive, so I put it in the shelter of the duranta pot, where it could hide, and move back toward the yard if it wanted. After about a day, it was gone, so I presume it’s living la dolce vita back in the shrubbery.

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    • I find many of the native bees so hard to identify. I’ve used a website from an entomologist at The University of Texas for my main local source: http://w3.biosci.utexas.edu/jha/about-native-bees Mostly, it’s helpful, though they changed the website and removed some of the photos that I use to rely on. They’re photos are these lovely, hi-res shots and mine are, well, not that. 🙂 Therefore, it’s a little bit of a guessing game as to what’s buzzing around.

      I’m excited about your duranta and eager to see how it does come summer. I gave mine to a neighbor and it’ll bloom more for her, I think. I just love that plant!!

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    • Thanks. I’m trying to be careful when I prune or do any sort of work. It’s amazing where these critters hang out. I find if I’m methodical in my work, I find critters and can avoid hurting them. Other times, it’s just dumb luck. Good for your Dad–probably part of why you’re in tuned with wildlife. Apple doesn’t fall too far, as they say.

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  4. It’s always exciting to see the first native pollinators of the season out and about. I’ve occasionally seen mourning cloak butterflies and flies on warm winter days even here in the north. Nature is so fascinating. I so enjoyed this post!

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    • Yes, people usually go cross-eyed when I explain that there are all sorts of native bees: bumbles, carpenters, tiny ant-like–and such. I’m not sure they really believe me. 🙂

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