Friday, July 10, 2009

Let Sleeping Bees Hang


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.

11 comments:

Tee said...

Oh, cool...now I'll know what kind of "bumblebees" those are when my sunflowers are ready. I think I've seen them here; if I'm not mistaken, the wee guy in my current profile pic may be a Long-Horned bee; he and others were happily (yet lazily) swarming a white Rhodie some time back.

A Washington Longhorn...lol.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What great photos of this bee. They are very interesting with their fuzzy leggings that capture the pollen.

Janet said...

I am glad you asked and then told us what they were, interesting!

Chiot's Run said...

I saw one sleeping on my thyme last night when we went out for a walk.

Muum said...

I've never seen bees do that, before, interesting! I have some unknown pollinators, they seem to be bees , but not honey bees, buzzing around my flowers.

Tatyana said...

Amazing! Thanks for showing them!

Jessica said...

wow! How funny!

PrairieGarden-Liane said...

I love the bees in my garden (who would have thought). They seem to have only one desire and that is to find flowers to pollinate.

-Liane
http://prairiegarden-liane.blogspot.com/

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I see bees sleeping all the time, but never in clusters like that. How cool!

Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

Tee ~ I've seen them flying around here, too. Bees are the coolest things, aren't they?

Lisa ~ I love their fuzzy legs, too!

Janet ~ Well, I didn't ask, but someone else did, and I'm glad, too! That way it was easy for me to find out about them when I googled for an answer.

Chiot's Run ~ I think it's cute how they do that.

Muum ~ Since I've started gardening, I have noticed that there are all kinds of bees besides honeybees. And some buzzy things that look like bees, but are really flies!

Tatyana ~ You're welcome! :-)

Jessica ~ I thought so, too!

Liane ~ And thank goodness they do! :-)

Robin ~ They definitely catch your eye. Usually I'll see bees sleeping in things like zinnias and daisies.

Rose said...

So interesting, Kylee; I don't think I've ever seen this type of bee before. This is my first year to plant a few sunflowers, so I will have to be on the lookout for them.

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