Canoodling bee-grabbers

These remarkable flies, known as Thick-headed Flies (Conopidae), are larval parasitoids of bees and wasps. Females of this species, Conops quadrifasciatus, attack bumblebees in flight, which has earned them the name ‘bee-grabbers’. Apparently, they grab the poor bee, and use a specialised pad-like structure at the end of their abdomen (called a theca) to prise apart the bee and implant…

Wild at heart: the Giant honey bee

The Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) is a large (17–20 mm long) bee, which occurs in India and S E Asia. (1) There are four subspecies; the one shown here from Thailand is Apis dorsata dorsata Fabricius. The colour is somewhat similar to the European honey bee, with golden, black and pale bands on the abdomen. Like A.…

Bee-flies: the dipteran narwhals

I always enjoy seeing bombyliids (bee-flies). They sound like little helicopters, hovering and buzzing about, and their furry appearance gives them a certain cuteness. They are flies pretending to be bees! Not the easiest of insects to identify from photographs though. This one looks rather like Bombylius posticus, which has a wide Palaearctic distribution, but I am not…

Stingless bees and resin bugs

The peculiar shape of this nest entrance caught my eye. Bees were moving in and out of the trumpet-shaped nest which was located below a large dipterocarp tree, at the foot of Doi Chiang Dao mountain, north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. These waxy nests are constructed by stingless bees (Meliponini tribe of the family Apidae),…

Knot bad for bees!

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a fast growing, invasive perennial with a terrible reputation for spreading and excluding other native plants. Its roots are also capable of breaking through concrete and other man-made materials (1). But it’s not all bad! It looks quite nice when it is flower, right now in September, and it’s good…

Asian hornet in Galicia

At the end of last month (on 28th August) I sat on a hillside in Galicia, Spain, next to a beautiful bush of flowering bell heather, photographing the wasps which were gorging themselves on the pollen and nectar. They were covered in pollen (below). They were very calm and non-aggressive and I sat right next…

Bees knees and tongues!

Since it’s Bees Needs week, I thought that I would put together a blog about bees using photographs I have taken recently in Scarborough and Spain. Taking photographs of bees is fun, but it is a bit of a hit and miss process and you need to take quite a lot of shots to get…