South Bank Show

Just opposite the kitchen window is a southerly facing bank, which is covered in a thick carpet of wildflowers and weeds, with a hint of grass. At midday, it is a mass of colour, very picturesque, and is attracting a multitude of wildlife – especially bees.

Honey Bee visiting Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

Honey Bee visiting Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

With all the buzzing, it doesn’t take a detective to track down some of the visitors. Especially when they are relatively large and sporting black and yellow furry stripes (with a cute white bottom)…

Bumblebee on Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Bumblebee on Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

There are one or two honey bees in the mix, gleaning every little they can. Most of their sisters are over at the box tree, which is currently pollen central (more of that in another post).

Honey bee on Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica).

Honey bee on Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica).

my new friend, the Carpenter Bee

my new friend, the Carpenter Bee

and finally, something new to me, even though it is apparently one of the most common bumblebee species, here is the Common Carder Bee. It is medium-sized, has a long tongue and nests on the surface of the ground…

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)

common_carder_bee_1

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Is it a bee?

carpenter bee

sounds like a bee

Whilst trying to photograph a bumble bee, bumbling around in the now rather lush ground cover, my attention was drawn to this big black bug, behaving in much the same fashion as the bumble bee.

It had a loud buzz and was busy foraging within the flowers. But the body is glossy, heavy and black which made me think ‘beetle’. The wings are fabulous – a gorgeous irridescent blue.

Anyway, a quick google has provided the answer – it seems that I have met my first Carpenter Bee. Apparently fairly common in France, they make their home in old rotting trees, live a somewhat solitary existence, and are not aggressive and rarely sting.

In France, they are called the blue bee or abeille charpentiere and its Latin name is Xylocopa violacea.

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bee