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Friday
Apr102015

Native cuckoo bee spotting ahead of Wild Pollinator Count

Yet again I'm amazed by what you can see, if only you look. Yes, you guessed it, I've been spotting native bees in our urban area again! It was on a day I thought too cool for native bees. I didn't have my macro lens or camera in tow. But when I glanced and saw this bee, I knew right away what it was - and caught a little of the action on my phone.

The video below features a stunning chequered cuckoo bee, Thyreus caeruleopunctatus, visiting some Purple top flowers (Verbena bonariensis - a weed, and a popular flower for pollinators). 

Autumn cuckoo bee video (43 seconds).

As you might know, female cuckoo bees don't build their own nests. Instead, they tend to hang out around the nests of blue-banded bees, and will sneak into a blue-banded's nest while the female is out and lay an egg into the brood cell. When the blue banded bee returns she seals the cell. Next, the cuckoo bee egg hatches and the larva eats all the nectar or pollen the blue banded bee provisioned the nest with. They then spin a cocoon and pupate. Meanwhile, when the blue-banded bee larva emerges there's nothing left to eat, so it dies.

This parasitic behaviour takes the shine off this stunning bee's looks for some people! 

You're invited to do some pollinator spotting of your own in the coming week. There's another round of the Wild Pollinator Count running from Sunday 12th to Saturday 18th of April. As you may recall from the inaugural event, the idea is to spend 10 minutes watching a flowering plant of your choice, and to record the pollinators you see visiting. You can use the project tally sheet to keep track, and it's fine if you're not sure as to the precise identification (I'm no expert either!). There are also lots of links to useful resources on the project site, along with tips for encouraging pollinators into your garden. 

Find out more by visiting wildpollinatorcount.com

I hope you'll join in, share your observations and help us to raise awareness and knowledge about Aussie pollinators! 

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