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

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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