Monday, 20 May 2013

Pair of red Mason Bees

While I was gardening, a furry, buzzing ball drops from the sky into the bottom of a clay pot full of broken crocks. I peek in: it is a pair of Red Mason Bees and the female, with the male firmly holding onto her back, has trouble climbing out. I give them a helping hand and place them on a dandelion. The female quickly starts to feed, greedily on the nectar. The male keeps holding on. He vibrates his wings making an audible buzz, drums with his antennae, kicks her abdomen and pushes with his head against the female's head. I know that Red Mason Bees do mate guarding, a behaviour by which the male 'piggy-backs' onto the female after mating to prevent her to be inseminated by a different male, allowing his sperm valuable time to fertilise the female's eggs. I have no way of knowing if they had already mated at the bottom of the pot, but the male's behaviour was far from a passive 'guarding': he was very busy indeed and oblivious to the food nearby. He carried on for a few more minutes and then flew away. The female fed for a while longer.
 You can watch a short clip here:

2 comments:

Ray said...

Great!

A pair fell on my head a couple of days ago, and from there to the ground, and then, with my help, onto the garden table - were I posed them.
They were totally oblivious to my presence: http://flic.kr/p/etBKAx (complete with mites).

Africa Gómez said...

Great shot Ray. I guess this behaviour might allow the mites to find new hosts if they are too crowded.