10 March 2008

The sleep of bees

"Blue banded bees are not at all aggressive" says the Australian Native Bee Research Centre.

That is the first question asked about so many species. It's good to know the answer, but funny as too-tight shoes since our obnoxiousness to them is so often off the chart– especially when there's a camera involved.

No worries! The aggression is all mine

These are Common Blue-banded Bees or Blue Banded Bees (Amegilla cingulata) – males, settled for the night on a sorrel stem.
A number of bees, including the Green & Gold Bee, sleep in large groups of 8 or more. They also fight for their special resting spot with others in the group. These sleeping areas, usually only occupied by males, are simply a small branch or leaf to which the bees cling with their jaws.
– Simon Brown, Native Bees, Willoughby City Council Bushcare News
As I didn't know what they are nor what they were doing (if in doubt, the rules are: If it's people involved, it's a religious rite. If it's other species, it's s**) and as it was breezy, I not only took hold of their place of rest but twisted it around and over while I palpated the camera with my other hand.

Although I didn't ring their legs, notch their wings, glue radio transmitters to their backs (let alone have collecting glints in my eyes) one of the disturbed sleepers eventually fled, leaving the other to grip grimly, all alone. Here's a closeup of those jaws:

What is sleep to bees?

What role do eyelids play in sleep?

Do bees dream?

What does aggressive mean?

For more about these fascinating bees, including where those fortunate females sleep, see:
Blue-banded Bee by Warren and Gloria Sheather, Yallaroo Wildlife (A wonderful place!)
As they say, Unfortunately many gardeners have been conditioned to reach for poisons as soon as they see something with six legs and wings.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Gardening Australia Fact Sheet: Bees

To sleep, perchance to dream
beside you, brother, on this sorrel stem,

but no! Methinks to scream

but I can only Zzzzzzzz.

O! Wo- and men.


Anonymous said...

At last amongst the wonderful images a glimpse of the artiste's fingernail!! {sigh}, scrubbed clean and dainty as befits the Lady of the Lens,

CA, Warragul

Tom said...

So nice pictures!...and information ;)

I’ve got news though: bees are disappearing ... along with Mankind (according to A.Einstein)
Check out my site for more information

anna tambour said...

CA! How lovely that you've stopped by. But as for the 'scrubbed clean and dainty', I'm sure the bee would have a different viewpoint, though if that finger looks half as scrubbed clean and dainty (and pink!) as a pickled piglet's foot, then it truly would be beautiful.

And Tom, thanks for your interest, though the colony collapse is happening with another species of bees. This is an informative article with many excellent links.
Please Lord, not the bees, by Peter Dearman, Guerrilla News Network, 2 May 2007