The Sleeping Bees

I went to visit the bees again yesterday evening. This time I went at about 7 p.m. I could tell it was going to rain soon. The sky looked pale and the air smelled like sweet dirt.This has been the time when the bees are most active. Last night, however, they were anything but active. Many of the bees were sleeping. The only thing different, that I can think of, was the weather. We had a string of extremely hot days–in the 100’s–and suddenly it was cooling off, fast. Maybe the bees thought the drop in temperature meant it was time to take a break? I don’t know.

One thing very interesting about the sleeping bees was how they slept. Many bees slept upside down underneath the flowers.

A few even wedged themselves between leaves and flower, so they were more sheltered.

Not all bees were asleep. It seemed the bigger bees slept, but the youngsters continued to eat! This one is upside down, but it’s not sleeping. It is crawling over this flower and eating! They seem to have a pattern in how they crawl over the flowers–they make loops around it, in a spiral, from one end to the other. I caught this guy as he was coming up from the bottom.

I also saw some bees that slept right-side up, perched on a branch or flower, like a bird. This bee fascinated me because I’m not sure what kind it is. It doesn’t look like the other bumblebees. It’s wings are not translucent, but black with copper highlights–or maybe they are just reflecting its fur, which is literally the color of honey. It doesn’t have fur on its stinger–it’s slick and shiny. Also, that little feather-hat thing sticking up above its head? I’m not sure, but I think that was part of the bee? And the size of it was no joke! I was intimidated. I waited a while to make sure this one was really sleeping before I got close to it.

The angle of this photo is a bit bizarre because the angle of this sleeping bee was very strange! I know it was sleeping because I went to this flowerbed first and saw this bee. Then I left and went to the spot with the flowering bush. I spent a good half hour there and came back and this bee hadn’t moved at all. It is sleeping at an angle on the flower with its head down toward the petals.

I also spotted this one, which was not sleeping. I can’t be positive, but from doing some image searches on Google, this may be a young queen! They don’t mate until fall, so they are often out and active. This bee definitely was more temperamental. I wanted a better shot, but it was giving me warning signs not to get too close. It definitely had attitude.

I’m hoping the rain will drive the nectar up and the bees will feast tonight!

The End


5 thoughts on “The Sleeping Bees

  1. The one with the shiny black abdomen is a carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) and the feather hat is not part of the bee, but maybe got stuck there when it was flying through vegetation? Very mysterious.

    • Thank you! I was surprised too. And it made me wonder if they were still alive. I shook the branch a bit and they moved a little. I think they were taking cover from the incoming rain? Using the flowers as shelter, maybe …


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