buzz

The differences are

plentiful

the similarities are

striking

but

it remains obvious

that

one is a bumblebee

and one

isn’t.

bumblebee
bumblebee
bee-like fly
bee-like fly

Okay, so, thanks to my friend Melinda, I was corrected about my post on the honey bee. Since then I have found out all sorts of interesting things about bees and non-bees that I never knew.

1. Not every big, round flying insect with yellow and black stripes is a bumblebee or honeybee.

2. Bumblebees and honeybees have “elbowed antennae”. In other words, their antennae are longer and have a joint in the middle so that that they bend back down toward the head. The flies usually have very little antennae at all with no bend in it.

3. Bees have four wings, two on each side. Flies have only two wings. I have noticed, but am not sure how common this is, that the bee folds its wings down totally while drinking while the flies wings stay spread out away from the body. (As an aside, this is how you can tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies too. Dragonflies keep their wings out and damselflies point them up to the sky while resting.)

For more info on spotting the differences between bees and flies check out:

http://beespotter.mste.illinois.edu/topics/mimics/

http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek110701.html

Despite the differences, the one similarity is that both bees and flies are great pollinators. Bee populations are definitely declining, I have only seen a couple of the big guys on my flowers this year (so far). It is also apparent that pesticides are causing a huge decrease in the population. This is an article about a “bee-kill” in Oregon that fellow blogger Just Another Nature Enthusiast told me about this morning. Evidently a company sprayed some linden trees to control the aphid population and ended up killing 1,000 bees. There had been serious limitations put on this pesticide in Oregon after a similar incident last year. The company that sprayed has had their license suspended.

It reminds me of how the pesticides almost decimated the osprey years ago. This was finally turned around by banning the pesticide in this country. Hopefully we can do this for the bee killing one. I’m not gonna hold my breath.

J.A.N.E. has also let me know that this past week was “Pollinator’s Week”. Hooray for pollinators everywhere!!!

 

18 thoughts on “buzz

  1. For what it’s worth and/or might accomplish, the White House announced this week the formation of a task force to address the issue of honeybee decline. However, true to form, the issue of neonicotinoid pesticides was sidestepped.

    1. Thanks for letting me know. So far what I’ve read says that the reasons for the decline are myriad, including neonicotinoids but so far the only major money outlay will be for creating new “homes” for the bees. What good is that if they are still dying from pesticides and diseases? Ugh.

      1. Yes, I caught that too, avoid correcting the problem and instead create reservations to send them off to, hoping they will adapt.
        The multiple issues of development, pesticides and Big Ag are all underscored by powerful ‘interests’ (read money) that will be tough to fight. The money outlay for ‘safe habitat’ will largely be squandered on bureaucratic processes and excessive costs from contractors who perform what is most often sloppy work. Moreover, the quality of the acquired real estate will be based on what it might be worth to another sector of the economy.
        Wash, bleach, repeat.

          1. Understood… I’m beginning to get past the emotional reactions and feeling the confidence to take a little action. For the moment, simply oiling the ‘monkey wrench’ is a calming meditation… 😉

          2. Interesting. I have avoided action because of the emotional toll. Now I want to act and be loud and obnoxious…like the late Farley Mowat. Just don’t know where to start.

          3. Me neither, yet rational conversations are always a good start… thanks!
            Settling into a small scale farm life is good for me right now, at least I’m not adding to the loads of food grinding up and down the highways.

  2. I will have to come back to your post to refresh my memory on all these differences, when the bees next appear. Are you able to hire hives for your property? We can do that here but I don’t because we live on a small section and the neighbours would not like the bee frass. When I was young, one of my jobs was to hand pollinate (with a tiny paintbrush) the passionfruit vine. It was fun and worthwhile. Have you been a pollinator?

    1. Oh my goodness such information you have given me…hiring hives, hand pollination…I know nothing about any of it. I’m going to have to decide how far to take this bee thing aren’t I? 🙂

        1. thanks for the link, I love her blog! I am researching hiring/renting beehives but for now will rely on my neighbor’s honeybees. I am thinking there are more bee posts coming in the future!

      1. Eventually yes, whether or not it’s soon enough becomes critical as the dominos line up. New studies are linking these same overuses of pesticides to the current “epidemic” of autism…
        We learn, but are increasingly becoming slow learners.

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