The End Of Bees

There's a bee crisis - or more precisely, there's a lack of bees crisis. And, if we are to believe the reports - it's global. Now if you're like me - you tend to take a healthy dose of cynicism with ya corn-flakes so there's a good chance you'll view such claims with a somewhat jaundiced eye ...

The deal is that if the bee shortage continues or worsens, all out famine will result due to the lack of pollination from our industrious little friends.

I don't know - it all seems a bit contrived, a bit shrill - a bit simplistic and propagandaesque.

Hey, I might be wrong - maybe if the bees go we'll have taken an evolutionary dead end that in sixty million years or so, will see bearded dragons using our remains to run their cars ...

I can say one thing with certainty - right now, in our garden, it's beemageddon. The culprit though isn't global warming, pesticides or Monsanto ... it's our old mate the flower spider. Every day, over the last week, I've trundled down the garden to say g'day to her and see what she's up to.

Well, what she's been bloody well up to is eating everyone else in the garden!.

But it's the poor old bees who've been copping the biggest hiding. And whether or not the beelievers, (sorry) are right or not is almost a mute point. I grew up with the understanding that bees are 'good', wasps - not so much ... esp the introduced German wasp - a marauder of school lunches and the bane of family picnics N.Z wide, (Kiwis aren't good with stinging bitey things in general, but they keep voting nevertheless - god bless 'em).


Blue banded bee stopping in for lunch


Not quite what she had in mind eh?


After a bee this hoverfly would be a cake-walk eh?


Such considerations aside, I watched as one of Australia's largest bees - the Great Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa), droned and blundered her way about. I love watching them fly from flower to flower - they don't really land, it's more of a controlled crash ... they are though very strong flyers, and surprisingly quick.

Anyway, this bee-hemoth (sorry, I'll stop now), this behemoth of a bee couldn't possibly be at risk from the spider, (were my thoughts as she was doing her bombastic rounds). How wrong can ya bee? (no, seriously - I'm sorry ... I promise, no more ... it's ridiculous ...).


Now tell me the truth - does my thorax look big in this?


Nature can be ghoulishly cartoonsih at times


And using her prodigious strength she manipulated the bee ...


... until it was completely desiccated


Speaking of spiders - I awoke the other morning to find this handsome devil staring down on me ... comfiest pic I've ever taken :) The second pic is of a giant water spider - I snapped it while teetering on some sharp rocks under a bridge the other day - a real beauty, but I've read they can be a touch cranky and can deliver a powerful bite. This one though seemed pretty mellow as I leaned in with the compact while trying not to break my neck ...


Sparassidae


Megadolomedes australianus


The dragonfly's seem to be doing well, we've got loads zooming around the garden at present - and I can't resist snapping them ...






I also happened across this striking leaf footed bug - those colours make it pretty clear that it's not tasty, (either that or it's a damned fine example of Batesian mimicry). It's a plant feeder - using it's rostrum to draw liquid as you can see in the pic.


Hemiptera

Then last night I spent a while annoying this slightly grubby but incredibly iridescent white-lipped tree frog who grimly hunkered down refusing to do anything interesting until I buggered off and stopped disturbing his evening hunt ...


Litoria infrafrenata

And while we're on the subject of frogs - look who's back ... We thought that our jolly green giant had disappeared ... in fact, I was sure she'd been eaten. But no, like the proverbial bad penny - there she was sitting on top of Jo's woodies with a look of patient expectation on her broad face ...

Well, Jo couldn't resist (who could), so she grabbed a couple of roaches from their box and quick as lightening our plump little green mate started munching away ...


Litoria caerulea


Mmmmm woody!


Waiter! There appears to be a thumb in my woody!


Delicious


BAAAARP!

If ya like - you can jump back to an earlier post when Jo first fed this frog nearly a year ago ... I have no idea where she's been in the interim but it's bloody great to see her again.



All (bad) jokes aside, I hope those who claim the end of bees is nigh are wrong. It's unconscionable that we even have to consider the possibility that a farmed animal is threatened with extinction - a bloody farmed animal - have we really reached the point that we can't even look after the animals that feed us?. We're insane if that's the case ... ya can't bloody well eat money eh?.

To Bee or not to Bee ... I guess that's the question, seems daft we even have to ask eh? 

Twenty Four Hours Of Rain

Rainy weekends - they're hard to beat eh? And despite dire predictions from the met service, (at one point after listening to them I thought an ark might be required), the rain's been sporadic - not monsoonal at all -  a bit of a let down really ...

However, it has meant that the temps are lower and more importantly, the critters are getting a drink. So over the last 24 hours or so I've been dodging the rain, snapping away and generally making a nuisance of myself ...

It's hardly news that dragonfly's are some of my favourite insects - to watch and to photograph. The more I learn about them, the more intrigued I become. For example, I wasn't aware that they can move all four wings independently of one another - no wonder they're such accomplished flyers eh? Thanks to Sir David Attenborough for that little gem from his new doco series Conquest of the skies.

The dragonfly's in the garden are plentiful and the rain is providing them with essential breeding sites. The males patrol small areas, seeing off interlopers while attempting to grapple with the females who move in and out of their territories.








The frogs of course are seemingly loving the rain and I spied one yesterday through a hole in a wild ginger plant left by a grasshopper.


A snoozing Litoria xanthomera 


Upon awakening a little later in the day


The funny thing was that as the night got wetter - who should slip inside but this same little guy (You're right of course, I can't prove it's the same frog - but it's fun to imagine eh?).





Now, for those of you who like to hurt yaselves with taxonomy - what species do you suppose this handsome Hemiptera is? I haven't the foggiest, but as the order is huge, I figure that's okay eh?.




Not every critter is thrilled to see the rain. The blue-moon butterfly below was doing her best to keep her wings dry by sheltering under a leaf on the very same plant that the yellow flower spider (previous post) has taken up residence. In fact, I've counted three Diaea inhabiting the bush - so not a safe place to seek sanctuary at all. The spider has also moved to a new flower - and a new victim. We're becoming quite well acquainted, that spider and I - although one suspects she's just using me to get published ;) ...






Weirdly, we've seen no snakes - with the rain and concomitant wildlife, I was sure that we would've, but no. Of course, the females may all be attending a fifty shades of grey premier - but where are the males?. Ah well, there are plenty of reptiles around to share with you - such as this Carlia. My rainbow skink friends are gamely braving the weather and if the amount of juveniles I've seen today is any indication, their population is pretty healthy ...




Well good people - that's it for today ... I'm off to annoy a few drinks (and Jo), so - as always, take care - Paul :)


'Crab' spider is a common name applied loosely to many species of spiders, but most consistently to members of the family Thomisidae. Among the Thomisidae it usually refers to the familiar species of "flower crab spiders", though not all members of the family are limited to ambush hunting in flowers.

Thomisidae do not build webs to trap prey, though all of them produce silk for drop lines and sundry reproductive purposes; some are wandering hunters and the most widely known are ambush predators. Some species sit on or beside flowers or fruit, where they grab visiting insects. Individuals of some species, such as Misumena vatia, are able to change color over a period of some days, to match the flower on which they are sitting. edited ^
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