Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bee Abodes

I'm confident this has made its way about the blog circuit by now; I meant to post it ages ago. Even so, the story fits nicely into a few previous posts — Hubert Duprat's Trichopteran Integuments, Decapod Domicile — and included an Aha! moment for me. These amazing photos are of tiny bee nests, made by a particular kind of solitary bee, Osmia avosetta, who builds a single cocoon for each of its eggs. The findings occurred almost simultaneously in both Turkey and Iran, and I have not been able to confirm that any other kind of bee makes a nest similar to this or in any other part of the world.

But while hiking in Northern California at the Marin Watershed 2 months ago I found these mysterious dwellings (above) under the trees alongside the lake. The photos aren't fantastic, but these thumb-sized nests were made from pine needles, moss, dirt, and some kind of binder, presumably from the insect architect. Once you started looking they were everywhere ... what had made them? There were no signs of life, so it appeared that whatever was living in them had already vacated. They were just large enough to stick a finger in, so I imagine the inhabitant(s) must have been about the same circumference. After reading this article I thought, Maybe a bee! as there are many ground-nesting bee species. I'd love to learn what made these cocoons. If you have any knowledge of this at all, I'd be super excited to hear about it. [Thanks, Ginny, for forwarded me the NPR link!]


  1. What a great and interesting post! I hardly ever come across treasures of nature when I'm hiking. I live in Holland and 'our nature' isn't that interesting. Everything is cultivated.

  2. Thanks, TP. I've only been to Amsterdam and didn't get a chance to explore outside the city. But cultivated as it may be, there must be treasures out there, somewhere! Nature always finds a way. Having your nose to the ground usually yields discovery ... as well as running into things.


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