Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bee Informed

A few months ago, I was contacted by Jessica Rykken, a Research Associate at Harvard University, through Kim Bacon of Texas Bee Watchers. Jessica found photos of my garden on Kim's website and wanted to know if she could use one of them in some educational bee observer cards she was working on for Encyclopedia of Life. Jessica ended up using a photo of my front garden from last year with an inset photo of the front yard when I bought my house nine years ago. 

According to the EOL website, "Observer cards are designed to foster the art and science of observing nature. Sets are [sic] cards are organized around Families of plants, animals, and fungi. Each set provides information about key traits and techniques necessary to make accurate and useful scientific observations. The tool is not designed to identify species, but rather to encourage detailed observations. Of course, identification can be possible with careful observations but the focus here is on the process of observing."

The observer cards are brief and informative. The cards describe characteristics and behaviors that can be used to help you identify and better understand bees. I found out that the bees that collect pollen in my garden every spring and cluster on stems of plants at night are male solitary bees. I have referred to them as homeless bees and it turns out that that is an accurate description. 

This is a photo of the male solitary bees that gather on plants in my garden in the evenings. Once they gather, they kick off all of the pollen that they collected on their legs. According to the cards, male solitary bees do not have a nest to return to at night, as the females do, so they aggregate as a defensive strategy and often return to the same location each night. 

If you would like to know more about these important and, often, misunderstood pollinators, you can open the Bee Observer Cards below. Click the Encyclopedia of Life link above and you can view Ant Observer Cards as well. Be sure to check the Texas Bee Watchers site for information about bees, plants, bee gardens and more.


  1. Interesting , indeed. I did not know that about male soliatries.

    1. I did not know about that either. It is a strange life they have. Collecting pollen all day long, maybe meeting a lady bee, getting rejected, and forced to hang out with the guys all night. And then they do it all over again the next day.

  2. Not so solitary after all! I wonder what the guys share when they get together.

    1. Probably sharing stories of the lady bees they loved and lost.


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