These bees with the long antennae can be seen "hanging out" on the Miscanthis sinensis in the evenings. They're cute little fuzzy things and are quite lethargic when disturbed, but not aggressive in the least. If they fall off, they just fly back up and hang on.
So what are they?
The folks over at The Great Sunflower Project say they're likely of the large genus Melissodes, commonly called Long-Horned Bees due to the males having long antennae. These are solitary bees that make their nests in the ground, lining them with a waxy substance that they secrete.
They favor flowers in the Aster family, including sunflowers, daisies, and asters. We have all three in our gardens. Sunflowers, in particular, are highly dependent on Melissodes for cross-pollination.
Solitary bees are not likely to sting, because they don't have a hive to defend. Usually, they will only sting if they get caught in your clothing or feel directly threatened by your behavior, such as swatting at them. "Bee" respectful of them, and they'll return the favor!
I first noticed them clustering last evening and at first I thought they were all dead. Not dead, just sleeping! They did it last year, too, but I'd forgotten about it until I saw them again. They hang onto the blades of grass with their jaws. Now how that is restful, I have no idea, but I'm not a bee.
Friday, July 10, 2009