Macro Monday: the wool carder bee

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Macro Monday 1st June 2020

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new species visiting the lambs’ ears in my garden. After work I had gone into the garden to morph into a normal human again. The sun had moved to the point where shade was covering the flowerbeds but still an insect was busy and behaving in an unusual way.

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The insect was bumblebee-like and was visiting the hairy stems of the flower. It was a wool carder bee, a solitary bee that looks quite a bit like the common carder bumblebee (which I featured two weeks ago). My camera was inside and the bee came and went, without ever returning.

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Then, one evening last week I also went out into a shadier garden to try and forget about the existence of email, and this time I had my camera with me. The bee was coming and going again, making return visits. It was gathering up hairs from the stem of the plant and gathering them into small beardy bundles.

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When it flew up to head off with its cuttings, it would hover around and look right at me. It looked like it had a little white beard.

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I think you can see here where the hairs have been removed from the plant.

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I bought this plant last year and have had to wait a year for it to flower. It has the beautiful pink flowers that can easily be confused for an orchid if you don’t know the difference. It’s actually in the dead-nettle family, where plants like spearmint reside. I’ve been looking forward to it flowering throughout this period of staying at home. I think it should flower through the summer and there are plenty of flowerheads to keep it (and this blog) going.

Thanks for reading.

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3 thoughts on “Macro Monday: the wool carder bee”

  1. Hello Daniel,
    I am a Brit living in Canada and whilst looking for a poem by Albert Treloar on the Sussex Weald I came across your website. I used to be a Greenwood and wondered if you might be the son of Stephen Greenwood of Lancing Sussex who was briefly my brother-in-law. Just curious ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Lesley, thanks for your very interesting message. My Greenwood roots come from Liverpool via Yorkshire (Calder Valley area, also Howarth). I don’t know many Greenwoods in Sussex, certainly no one who would claim to have much heritage down here. Our Greenwood name comes from Greenwode which was a placename in Yorkshire from hundreds of years ago.

      1. Thanks Daniel for your interesting reply. Guess we are not related ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best to you in your future endeavors in the natural world.
        Lesley in Canada.

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