Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Little horn-faced bees mating!

Last winter I ordered a few cocoons of the little 1/4" long solitary 'Horn Faced' mason bee, (Osmia cornifrons) from Dave at Crownbees.com. Along with my two other species of solitary mason bees cocoons from last summer, I kept them cold all winter and only a few days ago I put them out to emerge as new adults, ready to immediately mate and start pollinating and nesting. (see my other posts about my mason/solitary bee nesting houses)
The weather has finally warmed up and dandelions are blooming at last! All my little mason bees have begun emerging from their cocoons. The males usually emerge first, and hang around the nest boxes waiting to pounce on the females when they hatch out of the cocoon tubes.  Today was my birthday, and it was also the birth day of many of the little solitary bees in the nesting boxes on my kitchen porch.

I was lucky enough to get some good photos today of one pair of my new tiny horn faced bees mating! The female has two small 'horns' jutting straight out from her face, she uses them to pack mud into the nesting cavities, thus making an individual chamber for each egg she lays.

Here are two pictures of the amorous couple, the smaller male positioned on top. Click on the pictures and you'll see nice big close ups:

I watched as the male performed some strange moves repeatedly. First he would hike his abdomen very high in the air...

Then he swung it back down and curled it tightly into a very hunched position...
He repeated these odd up/down 'hand stand curls' many times while holding the female still. I couldn't see that he was even making any sexual connection during all this, but I suppose he must have been taking care of business somehow-  lol!   After a while they stayed still for a while as in the first photo. Then the male unceremoniously flew off.  A 'one night stand'.  I watched to see what the female would do next...

Right after the male flew away, the female dragged her behind and squirted out this cream colored droplet and walked forward a few steps.  She cleaned her face for a moment, then flew off too. This droplet reminded me of watching bees poop, but the mason bee poo I have observed is gray, while honeybee poo is orange-brown. The mason bees poop immediately upon emerging from their cocoon before they go anywhere, and this female had probably already done that before mating.
This was a thinner liquid, and almost white.  At any rate, she seemed satisfied with her birthday's chain of events and went on her way.  See her little face horns?  She also has shorter antennae than the smaller male.  She's off to find food, pollinate flowers, and starting nesting!

Birthday chocolate mousse cake

Today was my 57th birthday. I was taken out for a lovely breakfast by my wonderful Brian. Afterwards, I worked a couple hours at the food pantry, then came home and did some gardening- the weather was perfect!
Our friend Madeline DeLosh, pastry chef extraordinaire, came to visit and brought the most beautiful and mouth watering chocolate mousse cake that she made for me. Here are pictures, before Brian and I devoured half of it. Look at the oval white chocolate plaque with her delicate writing in chocolate!  I have no idea how she managed to make the magically striped sponge cake around the bottom. Click on the pictures to see them enlarged...

HERE is Madeline's website in case you want to order some of her masterpieces for yourself! We consider ourselves very lucky to have Madeline and Eddie in our small town community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Spring hive bringing in pollen

Took a little video of my active hive today. i painted all my hive components a nice soft dark spruce green. The bees have only been finding pollen over the past few days. (The hive on the left has no bees right now- just storing some honey frames in it.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ladybug on the window

Suki and Sheba in my office.
Then Sheba spies a ladybug on the window glass...
(click on photos to enlarge)