The garden hum slowed significantly in the last few days, with bee buzz overpowered by cricket chirps. But still they come.
The first insect I focused on wasn’t a bee at all, but a spotted cucumber beetle who paid a surprise visit. It’s been years since I grew cucumbers and I can only imagine that it was a couple of houses shy of my neighbor’s garden. Instead, it made do with the mint.
A second glimpse wasn’t at a bee either. But I must admit that I’m forever mesmerized by the tiny hover flies that frequent the flowers. Hover flies are true flies, so while they may look a bit bee like, they don’t sting. And they take time to enjoy the nectar. My, what big eyes they have–taking up most of their head space. And such short antennae.
Since I was paying attention, I also realized that hover flies don’t have hindwings per say. Rather, as dipterous insects, they have halteres, which are a modified form of a hindwing. The halteres help with balance and guidance while in flight and are situated behind the forewings on the thorax or middle section of the body. Remember–head, thorax, abdomen. Here’s another tip: two wings fun, four wings run. Well, don’t exactly run, but get out of the way.
One of my favorites in the garden mix, the jewel-like sweat bees with their metallic green heads and thoraxes, plus yellow and black striped abdomens.
“Sweat bee” doesn’t strike me as the most romantic name for such a beautiful specimen, but they are so called because they’ve been known to land on us in search of a salty sip as we perspire. They will sting if annoyed.
But their sting isn’t as pronounced as that of the bumblebee; I thought about that as I carefully greeted one face to face while he sucked with his straw-like proboscis. The bumbles were in constant motion today. Though they’ve been in a collection tizzy all summer, I had to wonder, do they sense the end is near? And still, they perform their job.
Taking its time in the collection process was a honeybee. Perhaps it knows the end is coming for it was much calmer than has been the norm and stayed in the same spot for several minutes, ever so slowly only moving its head.
All the better for me to take a closer look, including at the segments of its leg. I’m fascinated by the claws at the base of the tarsus.
Each day, the sweet offerings diminish as do the number of pollinators. Long ago I swore I didn’t like insects, but the more I look, the more in awe I am. Even though I know there will be other things to focus on, I’m going to miss these moments of wonder.
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