Gardening Magazine

You Lookin' at Me?

By Gardenamateur

There I was trying to take a photo of a herb taking over the vegie patch when a very loud buzzing demanded my attention. He or she, the blue-banded bee, was about 12 inches away, checking me out very closely.

"You lookin' at me?" s/he seemed to be saying, not at all scared of a bit of close-up action, in fact I think a bit cheesed off that I had come too close to the eggplant pollen it was busily harvesting. Into the flower it dipped for another moment, then straight back to me, in my face, again just 12 inches away. "You lookin' at me, kid?" s/he seemed to say again, just like Robert de Niro/Travis Bickle in the movie 'Taxi Driver'.

The moment I picked up my camera to snap the amazing close up, of course it buzzed off noisily (much noisier than a common honeybee). So I waited patiently at the eggplant flower, and this is what I snapped next. 

You lookin' at me?

Typical of bees, it held this pose for 0.2 nanoseconds.

You lookin' at me?

This felt like 'holy grail' practice. See, my latest holy grail photo
is to get a blue-banded bee feeding on the most spectacular
flower in the garden, a passionfruit flower. As the passionfruit
vine is young and has borne no flowers yet, this is the next best
thing, a native blue-banded bee docking with an eggplant bloom. 


You lookin' at me?

Wow, this feels like 'bee cam'! I've seen (and heard) this noisy,
industrious little person several times in recent weeks, so I
presume its place of residence is the large, gappy brick wall
where I am training my passionfruit vine. 

Now, I'm no wildlife expert (but I am a devoted stickybeak) so all I know about this native Aussie bee is that its formal name is Amegilla cingulata, and its preferred housing is in nests made in either mud banks or crumbly sandstone rock faces. Here at Amateur Land they are making do with a second-best housing option, that badly built brick wall that is my neighbour's garage.

Blue banded bees are important in local crop production, pollinating up to 30% or our commercial crops (and so they help out around our vegie patch, too). The males have five stripes on their body, the females four, and the males are brighter blue and the females much paler in colour, so maybe I had an encounter with Mavis Bickle, not Travis Bickle?

Unlike honeybees they don't create hives and instead are rather solitary creatures. (Hey, I'm starting to like them even more now!) Now that I've had a practice run at snapping Ms Bickle in action, when the passionfruit flowers appear I am in for a long day camped out near the vine, just waiting for Ms Bickle to visit and come lookin' at me once more.

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