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Friday, August 2, 2013

Turrets and tongues

I can't help it — here's another local bee story.  I've actually been meaning to post about this one for a while now, but have been caught up with a variety of other things since Phil Van Soelen wrote to me about these bees in June.  

Colonies of Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana are observable from the outer parking lot on the southern end of Bodega Head.  What you might notice first are the fairly long "turrets" at the entrances to their burrows in the cliffs.

And then you'll see the bees approaching the burrows, or the faces of the bees peering out from the burrow entrances (below).

The turrets themselves are very intriguing.  At least three theories have been suggested for why the bees build them: deterring fly parasitism, protection from rain or debris, and serving as landmarks for orientation.

To build the turrets, the bees must find a water source, carry the water back to the cliff, and then mix the water with the sediment to create mud which they'll mold into a turret.

At one colony site, I found the bees at a very small pool of water on the upper portion of the beach.  Here they were busily sipping water:

When I looked closely at these pictures, I realized something about bees that I should have known a long time ago.  Bees have tongues!  In the next image, look for the bee's brownish tongue curling under to pick up water.  [Once you've seen it in the picture below, I think you'll be able to see at least two of the tongues in the photo above, too.]

There's so much to learn about the bees of Bodega Head!

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Whoo boy. I love that last photo!