Violet Carpenter Bees Are Out Of Hibernation

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This is a real sign that the thermometers are rising, it has been well over 20 degree Celsius for the last few days during the daytime and this has awoken the Violet Carpenter Bees.

These gentle giants are flying around feeding and also mating. You may think that these are dangerous due to their size, but are really docile and yes like all bees the female has a stinger, but rarely uses it. Many people think these are black, but if you look closely, you will notice the violet reflecting in the sunlight. In some countries Carpenter Bees are a pest as they damage wooden structures, however, Violet Carpenter Bees only seek out dead wood. If you have a garden or some land, leave out a rotting tree trunk or large branch which will become a nest and hibernation home for them. They are solitary bees, but this time of year you may see them mating.

Here are a few shots I snapped in the garden this morning


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Honey Bee & French Lavender Backlit By The Morning Sun

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I’ve been so carried away with all the activities of Springtime that I have not taken any “Artmospheric” shots lately. Yes, that’s a word I made up! So this morning I waited patiently at this French Lavender Flower that was nicely backlit by the sun with a great dark canvas provided by a distant Eucalyptus Tree that was in the shade.

I didn’t have to wait too long (thankfully for Wally’s sake who was getting bored!) until a Honey Bee turned up and managed to shoot this photo. This has kicked started me to take more “Artmospheric” shots and hope to bring you more soon!

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Honey Bee & French Lavender Backlit By The Morning Sun
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Barbary Nut Iris and The Bees

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All around the hills in the Algarve the Barbary Nut Iris has started to flower. I’m certainly no flower expert but it’s a great sight to see the purple flowers covering the landscape.

The odd thing about the Barbary Nut Iris is that the flower has a very short life, just half a day! It opens around Noon, closes at dusk and doesn’t open again. So it’s crucial the Bees do their job of pollination.

I set the camera up and focused on one flower, I used the 500mm lens and f/4 to create a very small depth of field and waited and waited and waited…….. The Bees were landing on all the other flowers except this one, typical. Then after about 30 minutes one finally came along and even stayed in the very small focus plane.

Honey Bee Pollinating a Barbary Nut Iris
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The Warm Weather Has Awoken The Carpenter Bees

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The giant of the Bee world, the Violet Carpenter Bee (Abelha carpinteira in Portuguese and Xylocopa violacea in Latin) can grow to over 25mm long. They appear black as they fly around making a deep noise like a WWII fighter plane, but have a violet tinge, hence the name.

Like all Bees, only the female has a sting but they are very comfortable around humans and rarely sting unless threatened. The are solitary Bees and nest in dead wood which is where the name Carpenter Bee is derived. This recent warm weather has brought them out of hibernation.

We have a Mimosa Tree in the garden and as it flowers this time of year it is full of all types of Bees, mainly Honey Bees from a neighboring farm.

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Violet Carpenter Bee/Abelha Carpinteira (Xylocopa violacea)
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The Bee Eaters have started to make a nest, but not so sure they are staying

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Early this afternoon, the Bee Eaters (Abelharucos in Portuguese) were absent from around the house so I decided to take a quick look at their handy work and also quickly erect a pop-up hide.

I sat in the hide for a short while and a breeding pair turned up. They seemed a little nervous around the area, possibly with the hide there, but did visit a few times.

Only once did the male (I think it’s the male) go to the hole that they have started but then the pair flew away. It takes up to 20 days to build the nest so hopefully they will return to complete it. I have also left the hide in place for them to get used to it being there.

You can just about work out the start of the hole on the live view on the camera;

In the hide

I did manage to get this shot of one sitting in a nearby tree.

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Are Bee Eaters making a nesting site in the garden?

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Today I could hear a lot of Bee Eater activity as they have a very distinct “chirping” noise.

Our house (or Quinta) is on top of a hill and we have a tree lined driveway up the hill. I could see them sitting in the trees and then it dawned on me.

When the previous owners landscaped the land, they excavated a hole to use the good soil to build some terracing. The hole still exists.

As it was dug with a digger, it has banks very similar to river banks. Bee Eaters build burrows in River banks. Yes, it appears as though they are possibly making their own excavations right here in the garden.

This photo, from a long distance shows 2 of the Bee Eaters sitting in the tree (top right) and the fake river bank that they are paying a lot of attention to.

Bee Eaters new nesting site? – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-17II @ 850mm, f/8, ISO360, 1/800sec

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