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I seem to be taking a lot of pictures of bees these days. Two reasons for that: there are a lot of bees out and about in our local desert and that makes them available as subjects; and, I happen to like bees. Bees are graceful and beautiful insects and they have fascinating lifestyles. They’re also a lot of fun to photograph because there are so many species of them in this area (about 1000 in all) and no two bees — aside from the ubiquitous Honeybees — seem to look alike. I find something new every time I photograph one of these insects.
Bees in the Sonoran Desert come in every shape and color imaginable. They’re big and tiny, inconspicuous and brilliant. There is just an enormous array of these creatures. Recently, I photographed a couple of bees with blue eyes. These little bees are smaller than Honeybees and they don’t much resemble them.
Here’s the first of the two. It was harvesting pollen and nectar on a Globemallow plant when I found it. Note the enormous collection of pollen on the bee’s hind leg and its very pretty blue eyes.
Here’s the second one, another blue-eyed bee! I found this one in a Prickly Pear flower. I took one or two photos and it climbed up the inner surface of the flower and appeared to stare at me, intrigued, possibly, by my camera’s flash.
Although these two bees are both blue-eyed, I do not believe that they are of the same species. The first bee has a dark-colored face whereas the second one has a yellow face. The second bee also appears to be a good bit hairier than the first one. Notice that both bees are covered with pollen grains.
I did a bit of research and I believe that both bees are likely members of the genus Melissodes, a genus that includes many species of solitary ground-dwelling bees. Bees belonging to this genus do not live in hives but in solitary burrows. These bees are sometimes referred to as “Digger Bees,” because of their propensity to live in burrows. An alternative popular name for members of this genus is “Longhorn Bees” because the males have very long antennae in proportion to their bodies. The females have shorter antennae and I believe that these two bees are females based on that distinction.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160. The first image shot at f16 @ 1/160, the second at f11 @ 1/160.