I was watching the bees and butterflies mob my Evodia tree (or Tedradium daniellii, depending on what you want to call it). At the same time I noticed clouds of tiny flies around the flowers. I had never noticed such numbers of tiny flies being attracted to my other “pollinator attractive” plants.
I managed to get close to some of the flowers on the lower branches and look closer at the “flies”.
I was horrified to see on closer inspection that they were tiny bees that I had mistaken for flies. I measured the Evodia’s petal and it is between 4-5 mm., so that gives you an indication of how small these bees are.
I have already posted about Carpenter bees in France.
I can imagine these big but harmless bees terrifying tourists from northern Europe as they relax in the garden of their holiday home and experience these bees for the first time. The first reflex is often to reach for the insect spray and kill them.
I had just jumped to the conclusion that the insects were flies based solely on their numbers. However, the thought occurred to me that whereas the Carpenter bee was at risk in human encounters because of its size, the little bee could be endangered for the same reason but at the other end of the spectrum – being mistaken for a fly.
Bees have the unsolicited benefit of being seen as “cute” to a large section of the human race and “useful” and to be protected to many more. Flies and other creepy crawlies have much less protection against the whims of human nature, despite frequently being pollinators themselves.
I have been seeing plenty of the little bees in the garden and they are easy to find on the Thalictrum.
I managed to measure the anthers of the Thalictrum stamens to be around 3-3.5 mm. which looks about the same length as the bee.
I hope that enthusiastic gardeners think before reaching for the spray can and realise that these little bees are not going to bite them or their children or consume large quantities of their favorite plants, nor yet spread diseases.
They visit a variety of flowers and I was surprised to see them visiting the water lilies.
I feel I have little chance of identifying them. Even with the help of Steven Falk’s wonderful book “Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland” their identification is beyond me. However, the tell-tale vertical slit in the last segment of the abdomen of the females make me think they are Lassioglossom bees. There are so many species that it is quite possible that I have more than one species visiting the garden.
I just hope anyone reading this appreciates how small bees can be and cherishes them.