Wildlife & Wild Places

Bees Sleeping… And Dreaming?

My name is Dino J. Martins, and I am a Kenyan entomologist who loves insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn’t know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the “little things that run the world” I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, and leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com.

I recently participated in an expedition through parts of northwestern Kenya to look at different kinds of bees.

The first thing that surprises many people about bees is that there are lots of different kinds of bees—in fact close to 20,000 species have been described! The honeybee, which is familiar to almost everyone, is just one kind of bee (a single species called Apis mellifera).

One of my favourite bees in East Africa are the amegilla bees. They are beautiful, fast-flying, hard-working creatures that zip about and fly with a characteristic high-pitched buzz that is most evident when they approach flowers. Amegillas are solitary bees. This is another surprising fact about bees; most species are solitary, with females building and caring for a nest on their own. Honeybees are social and live in colonies, as do a few other bees, but for the most part, the bees are loners.

Solitary female bees have their nests to go to at night or when they are not out feeding from flowers. However, males don’t have anywhere to go. They end up having to sleep on stems of plants, grasses being a favorite perch. In some species, such as amegilla, the males will often gather at particular sleeping areas in the evening. These are often near a stream or the edge of a wetland in a sheltered spot—sort of like a male bee’s version of the pub, I guess.

Where everybody knows your name. (Photo by Dino Martins)

We found this aggregation of amegilla males sleeping at the edge of a swamp near Bogoria recently… They are really charming creatures.

amegilla-sleeping-aggr-LR3
Male amegilla bees lined up in their “dormitory” for the night… (Photo by Dino Martins)

More from the world of bugs soon!

Read More By Dino Martins

My name is Dino J. Martins, I am a Kenyan entomologist and I love insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn't know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the 'little things that run the world' I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com
  • Ima Ryma

    I am an Amegilla bee,
    A cute Kenyan bug, born and bred,
    But detached from my family.
    My wife won’t let me in her bed.
    The Missus built her home sweet nest.
    At night with the young’uns, she’s there.
    But for me to get any rest,
    I am stuck with the guys elsewhere,
    Usually on some hangout stem
    To get shut eye – I’ve got a bunch.
    My family – I do miss them.
    They’re in my dreams, is my best hunch.

    Why? I once asked this of my wife.
    She said it’s just the way of life.

  • Ima Ryma

    I am an Amegilla bee,
    A cute Kenyan bug, born and bred,
    But detached from my family.
    My wife won’t let me in her bed.
    The Missus built her home sweet nest.
    At night with the young’uns, she’s there.
    But for me to get any rest,
    I am stuck with the guys elsewhere,
    Usually on some hangout stem
    To get shut eye – I’ve got a bunch.
    My family – I do miss them.
    They’re in my dreams, is my best hunch.

    Why? I once asked this of my wife.
    She said it’s just the way of life.

  • biffvernon

    Love the poem, Ima Ryma. May I use it for the Louth Festival of the Bees? http://transitiontownlouth.org.uk/bees.html

  • biffvernon

    Love the poem, Ima Ryma. May I use it for the Louth Festival of the Bees? http://transitiontownlouth.org.uk/bees.html

  • Rohit Raj

    Really Nice Information about bee………..i liked it

  • Rohit Raj

    Really Nice Information about bee………..i liked it

  • Rohit Raj

    Good Information…….

  • Rohit Raj

    Good Information…….

  • McCallum

    Holistic Medicine (Homeopathy) collects bee venom (apis melifica) for its healing properties (i.e. swellings).
    Those male amegilla bees are scarey looking insects – look like military vehicles. Do they sting if you brush up accidentally against their reeds? The children will enjoy your post; thank you for your article and the Ima Ryma poem.

  • McCallum

    Holistic Medicine (Homeopathy) collects bee venom (apis melifica) for its healing properties (i.e. swellings).
    Those male amegilla bees are scarey looking insects – look like military vehicles. Do they sting if you brush up accidentally against their reeds? The children will enjoy your post; thank you for your article and the Ima Ryma poem.

  • sarah peebles

    Those are some excellent bees! I and some collaborating artists in Toronto have created macro videos of different kinds of N. American solitary bees creating nests, with poetry, “Odes to Solitary Bees” at the blog, “Resonating Bodies” (resonatingbodies.wordpress.com). More images of what solitary bees get up to inside their tunnel nests are also posted in the Audio Bee Booths section.

  • sarah peebles

    Those are some excellent bees! I and some collaborating artists in Toronto have created macro videos of different kinds of N. American solitary bees creating nests, with poetry, “Odes to Solitary Bees” at the blog, “Resonating Bodies” (resonatingbodies.wordpress.com). More images of what solitary bees get up to inside their tunnel nests are also posted in the Audio Bee Booths section.

  • sarah peebles

    Those are some excellent bees! I and some collaborating artists in Toronto have created macro videos of different kinds of N. American solitary bees creating nests, with poetry, “Odes to Solitary Bees” at the blog, “Resonating Bodies” (http://resonatingbodies.wordpress.com/). More images of what solitary bees get up to inside their tunnel nests are also posted in the Audio Bee Booths section.

  • sarah peebles

    Those are some excellent bees! I and some collaborating artists in Toronto have created macro videos of different kinds of N. American solitary bees creating nests, with poetry, “Odes to Solitary Bees” at the blog, “Resonating Bodies” (http://resonatingbodies.wordpress.com/). More images of what solitary bees get up to inside their tunnel nests are also posted in the Audio Bee Booths section.

  • Elena Tartaglia

    Super awesome – both the photography and the info! Do they have their mandibles biting into the grass to secure themselves?

  • Elena Tartaglia

    Super awesome – both the photography and the info! Do they have their mandibles biting into the grass to secure themselves?

  • Saida

    It is really interesting. I agree that they are charming creatures.

  • Saida

    It is really interesting. I agree that they are charming creatures.

  • sospeter makuba

    1. In relation to other organisms like snakes do their poison vary according to their species. 2. what are their characteristics of reproduction are they the same in all species?.

  • sospeter makuba

    1. In relation to other organisms like snakes do their poison vary according to their species. 2. what are their characteristics of reproduction are they the same in all species?.

  • Deborah Kline

    How wonderful that you have been accepted as an “emerging explorer”. I am a new beekeeper and have told existing beekeepers that bees sleep. They don’t believe me. I was happy to read from you that bees sleep. I guess that many beekeepers are in the “working bee” syndrome.

  • Deborah Kline

    How wonderful that you have been accepted as an “emerging explorer”. I am a new beekeeper and have told existing beekeepers that bees sleep. They don’t believe me. I was happy to read from you that bees sleep. I guess that many beekeepers are in the “working bee” syndrome.

  • Vanbilly S. Betio

    How much do bees sleep?

  • Vanbilly S. Betio

    How much do bees sleep?

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