Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hey, You're Supposed to Pay For That!

It's a crime epidemic here at the Red House garden!
First it was the American Robin gang stealing all my holly berries, and now this:



Carpenter bee robbing a daffodil of its nectar.
This Carpenter Bee has cut a hole at the base of the daffodil and is happily drinking the nectar through the hole instead of going through the main entrance.  Thus it got out of 'paying' for the nectar by carrying pollen around to other flowers in order to produce seeds.  

The hole left by the carpenter bee is then subject to secondary robbery by other petty thieves such as smaller bees and insects that also want nectar.
 
Hole in daffodil left by nectar robbery
Carpenter bees do this because their bodies are too large to fit into the daffodil and their tongues (also called proboscis) are too short to reach into the flower for the nectar.   Thus they are forced into this life of crime.

Ack, I can't reach the nectar!
Now this daffodil victim has to hope that it has enough nectar left to attract other insects that might spread its pollen. 

Wouldn't you like some nectar?  It's right past all this nice pollen..
I'm not going to turn this Carpenter Bee in for its crimes just yet though - it is possible that some nectar robbery is actually good for a flower species.  If there is less nectar available, pollinators will have to fly further and visit more flowers to drink enough nectar, which increases genetic diversity.  Of course this only works if the robbers haven't stolen all of the loot.

See, I might be doing good!  Please don't turn me in!
While some nectar robbery may possibly be good, vandalism, on the other hand, is not.  

Some robbers, often including female carpenter bees, will vandalize the area in which the robbery takes place, destroying part of the flower.  Because of this the flower might not be able to set seed, and its life might even be cut short.


And then, dear bee, you could be wanted for murder.

23 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I saw this very thing happen today in my garden and wondered what was going on. I learn something new everyday.
    Thanks for the nice presentation. I wish every garden lesson was this nicely done. You'd be a hit in a classroom. (I'm a teacher, by the way)
    David/:0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great compliment, since I used to be a teacher before staying home with the kids! I'm glad it shows through :)

      Delete
  2. I've always heard these bees were not desirable, now I know why. I have lots of them. But I also have lots of the other bees, too, so maybe I don't have too many murderers out there! Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's rather funny that it's usually the female carpenter bees that do the most damage, too! Carpenter bees aren't all bad - they do pollinate flowers that are more open. But the worst part about them is how they tunnel into wood to lay their eggs. My parents have had to replace a lot of siding on their house due to carpenter bee holes!

      Delete
  3. What a nice posting. The Carpenter bee is really enjoying your daffodil blooms. I have not spotted any here yet but with this warm weather they will be out there What terrific pictures Indie.I love the one in flight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Carpenter bees are one of the first pollinators out in spring, so I'm sure they'll be there soon!

      Delete
  4. I love your post, especially your photos. I'm going to drill some holes in old wood and see if I attract any carpenter bees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen pictures of bee houses that people have made. I'm sure it would help - and then hopefully they won't drill in any wood you don't want them too!

      Delete
  5. Really nice captures you took of the carpenter bees! I suppose they have to resort to such measures when they don't have other options for pollen. I've had these bees bore holes in my deck and I wasn't so amused!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankfully I haven't seen any holes in my deck yet. We have a fair amount of woods with dead trees around - hopefully they'll stay busy over there with their nests!

      Delete
  6. Great information here and excellent photos to go with it.

    I'm not sure I have any in my garden but will certainly keep a look out. We need all the pollination we can get in case our weather goes to drought again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's hoping you get more rain this year! Last year was so tough. I never thought of the impact the lack of rain would have on the insects and pollinators, poor things.

      Delete
  7. Those are fab captures of the criminal pollinators! I can never catch them in the act. I think that Robin gang was at my place too a few weeks back - they just stripped Miss Nellie R. Stevens in 15 minutes :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those Robins are quick! Especially when working in a big gang!

      Delete
  8. We get carpenter bees too, but unfortunately they drill little holes into the wooden boards underneath the windows. It's quite a problem around my parts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the worst part of carpenter bees. Thankfully I haven't seen any holes yet..

      Delete
  9. Wow Indie- It seems that no one is asking you before coming into your garden.

    I really like the pictures. What kind of exposure do you need to get a bee's wings like that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I put my camera on sports mode, which gives me a shutter speed of 1/2000 (with ISO 200 and aperture 5.6). I have a Canon Rebel T2i, which we got awhile back for taking good indoor pics of the kids, but is fabulous in the garden as well!

      Delete
  10. Fabulous photos as so many others have commented. I tried to capture a leafcutter bee in action a while back, and spent what seemed like hours out there. Photos were okay for the brief second he/she was stationary, but just a blur while in flight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could take all the credit, but the camera really does most of the work. I have a Canon Rebel T2i, which is really fabulous at getting good motion shots when put in sports mode.

      Delete
  11. Oh Indie...you clearly have way too much time on your hands and obviuosly live in a very dodgy neighbourhood!
    Your photography however, despite my reservations about your sanity, is spectacular. That's a mighty powerful lens you've got there for some great close-ups. Lock up your daffs girlfriend, hide your nuts & bury your berries...til next time xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tell you, this neighborhood is really going downhill! All this petty crime going on. Just long as they don't make off with my nice shiny telephoto lens...

      Delete
  12. Indie - I read this post yesterday but I continue to think about it today. Figured I'd better let you know how amusing, clever and cute I thought it was. --Mizz Chairman of the Garden

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...