Garden Buzz: Bee or Not A Bee?

Okay folks, this almost-weekly post is a quiz, in honour of the fact that for the first time this summer I saw some honeybees in my garden! (I’m so relieved — the first cucumbers aborted for lack of sufficient pollination.) But don’t worry, you get helpful hints.

The first insect up is the familiar honeybee. Of course, you may not be all that familiar with what honeybees look like close up, because you’re (A) unduly terrified of them and/or (B) haven’t seen many lately due to losses from mites and Colony Collapse Disorder. So here’s a refresher. Kindly note that in addition to being gold and black and flying around going “buzzz”, a real honeybee is (1) furry (insect hairs are called setae); (2) has two pairs of wings; (3) has plain antennae, not feathery ones or tiny ones that are nothing more than bristles; (4) has a little tongue, not a long proboscis like a butterfly.

Aren’t they just so cute?

Other kinds of bees and wasps may or may not be furry or gold and black, but their bodies are visibly divided into the head, thorax and abdominal regions (you know, “wasp-waisted”). Aside from the coloration or varying amounts of fluffiness, they still look like other bees and wasps, not like beetles, flies, moths or other insects.

This shiny green motorcycle-with-wings is a sweat bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae Augochlora sp.)

This large shiny almost blue critter is the great black wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae Sphex pennsylvanicus). Both of these are nectaring on the oregano flowers. I end up having far more oregano in my landscaping than I’ll ever use in the kitchen, just because the insects love it so.

Smashingly gorgeous, aren’t they?!

Ready for the quiz? Okay, let’s go to my new insect photo page