Posted by: buzzybeegirl | April 28, 2009

Who Said Romance is Dead?

This past weekend I was out at one of my study plots taking some photographs. There were many cactus blooms and many more bees. I love watching the bee activity around the cactus blooms, especially the male bee activity. Male bees fly around specific blooms looking for female bees to mate with. If you watch the blooms you will see bees diving into flowers and quickly flying out, then flying around the bloom and taking off…repeating this crazy flying loop many many times. Here is how the process takes place:

1. Female bee finds flower to visit and gather pollen or nectar.

cactus-bee1

2. Female bee ‘swims’ around to gather pollen…Ahhhhhhh POLLEN!

cactus-bee2

3. Male bee spots unsuspecting female bee. Here is his chance to try to mate with this unsuspecting female that is busy gathering pollen. One minute she’s swimming in pollen, and before she knows it…there’s a male in the flower with her

cactus-bee31

4. She tries to fly out of the flower, but he’s fast. He grabs her and wrestles her down. MATE WITH ME!

cactus-bee4

5. More intense wrestling goes on. He continues to try to mount her as she tries to get away.

cactus-bee6

Now, I am not sure if he actually succeeded. It happened so fast and after this shot she flew away and he stayed behind. After, he flew away and began patrolling flowers for more unsuspecting females.

Of course there are many other males patrolling the same flowers competing with other males to get to these females. If male beeX takes a break in one of the flowers that male beeY is patrolling, male beeY will dive bomb the flower and chase male beeX away.

This goes on and on all day. Who says males can’t multitask?

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Responses

  1. so i take it you didn’t see him smoking a tiny cigarette after?

    • No small cigarette goodbear, they have to have the lungs to fly all day. Can’t take the risk you know

  2. Hi BBG – gonna show my ignorance here: I always thought female worker bees were incapable of reproducing and that the males were pretty much dedicated to queen bees! Could this be a replication of human flirting?! Or could humans be copying “bee flirting”!!

    • Hi Ashin, thanks for visiting the blog. You are correct about males being dedicated to queens and female workers being sterile, but that is how it works for honeybees. These bees are not honeybees and are considered solitary, so they do not live in a hive or have a caste system, so all females need to mate and lay their own eggs.
      I hope humans don’t copy “bee flirting”…imagine what it would be like for females, especially at the botanical gardens 😉

  3. Learn something new everyday! Thanks!

    P.S. Actually, I never really had an interest in bees – other than the fact that honey is considered a type of medicine in Buddhism – until I stumbled across your site. Your writing style and obvious passion for the critters really made an impression. Look forward to more 🙂

  4. You really should post a warning with these posts….this was clearly R-rated…maybe X!

    My poor delicate sensibilities…

    😉

  5. Nice set of photos. I took a bunch of pictures of diadasia mating. In places several males jumped on the female, forming a ball or cluster of bees, almost rolling around on the ground. Amazing!

    • Barbara, that must have been amazing to see. I would love to see the photos.

  6. I put photos of this on my blog. They aren’t great, but you can get the idea.

  7. hi:

    I work too with this type of cactus the opuntia huajapensis but we have a problem with the type of bee.
    we think that is a Diadasia, would you please tell me wath you know about this bees and where is the place where you take this photos

    Thanks

    • Hi Aneres, Diadasia are cactus specialists. They will only use pollen from a specific plant, I think it is mainly the barrel cactus. They are quite robust and fuzzy. This photo was taken in Tucson, AZ.


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