>Doug’s Bees

November 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm (Uncategorized)


Bees have tongues! Bees drink water!

I promised to explain “watering the bees.”

Doug, the senior half of the Taco Stand operation, wondered why bees and hornets would crowd around the booth windows in warm weather, making it highly annoying for both him and the visitors who drove up to pay their fee. He surmised that they thought the reflective surfaces were water. Now I had no idea in the world that bees drank water. But Doug got a metal dish, filled it with water, and set it away from the building, and sure enough there was a “beeline” to the watering hole. No more gauntlet of stinging insects.

“Ranger” Doug

Near noon one day I noticed a cloud of bees around the drive-up window. The watering hole was bone dry. It only takes 3 hours in warm, dry weather to empty the pan. So despite the disturbing buzzing of 3 dozen bees, I dutifully poured more water into the pan. Sure enough, no more bees by the window.

Doug thoughtfully placed a rock in the center to allow a comfortable foothold for the little critters, and some days the entire rock is encircled by slurping bees, like cattle at a trough. If the water is high enough, they hang onto the side. Invariably some fall in, but most find a foothold out. Occasionally two will cling to each other in desperation, and they both drown.

They appear to be mostly honeybees, which most of us know have been in dire straits the last few years due to the mysterious “colony collapse disorder.” Occasionally there will be a snout butterfly among them. We had an invasion of these guys the first weeks of November. Evidently, like the monarchs, the snout butterfly migrates in large numbers. Doug called them Proboscis and I called them Jimmy Durantes until I looked them up in my butterfly book. Funny little things. Their snout isn’t even where the tongue comes out, so it’s a mystery why it exists.

Snout Butterfly – notice where the tongue comes out

Early mornings, when it’s too cold for bees, the birds have a go at the watering hole – mockingbirds, canyon towhees, house finches. Some critter, probably javelina, finishes off the pan at night, since the rock is always out of place by morning.

California Sister on oak

Thanks to the bit of rain we had in late October, there were still some wildflowers blooming here and there, with their attendant butterflies. The California Sister is one of the more beautiful butterflies, favoring oak trees the day I was on the Laguna Meadows Trail. The Gulf Fritillary is also striking – a rich burnt orange with pearlescent spots on the underside. Here are some of the butterflies I’ve encountered.

Gulf Fritillary (top and underside)
Variegated Fritillary top and underside

Remember, help out the bees. Plant flowers.

“Ranger” Cindy

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