The Salt-Loving Bees of the Okanagan’s Glacial Rivers

When glaciers lay in the valley, rivers ran along the side of the ice, high up, 170 metres above today’s shore. They tell a tale still of eddies, currents, and washed-out and red-deposited lake beds and sand bars, laid down in an exquisite pattern, how exposed and wicking salt to the air.

These river beds are now the home of wild bees.

Sometimes, it is a river stone that falls from an old sandbar that provides the beginning of the bee’s burrow.

The glaciers live on.

Dressing Up for Work

First the workplace, nothing but the best …

P1390569Mariposa Lily

… and then the worker.

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Just because a flower is a worksite, doesn’t mean you have to dress down.

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Beautiful Furry Bee

(Note the excellent command of Latin.)

This bee was shy, and hovering down low, because, well…

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Sweat Bee at Work

… one has to wait one’s turn (Each turn lasts about 5 minutes.) Whew!

 

Beautiful Poppies and Dancing Bees

The Icelandic Poppies and the sumacs are in their glory, and the bees are joyful. I am joyful, too.

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Bees in the Staghorn Sumac

And Iceland? Yes! You know I love Iceland…

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Bee Landing on the Sun

(On my front lawn… ok, no lawn, only Iceland.) 

And, the glory of it all…

gold2Pure Gold!

Planting these flowers was the first act I made in this project. This is my nuclear reactor, completing the fusion processes of the sun.

You should have seen the bee dancing!

Wild Bees Going Wild

Wasps, bees, hornets, bumblebees, beetles, ants, butterflies … everyone is out in the wild cherries today. Nobody is in the orchards ten feet away. And not one single domesticated bee in sight. Look at them flying around!
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Here’s a blue wasp sucking the sweet nectar of life…

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And, not to be outdone, a blue ant …

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… and this beautiful creature, whatever it is …

P1600930 … and all the while, these guys are flying around …

P1600896 I gave up on photography and just stood in the swarm (they cared not a whit). I noticed this much…

  • Mourning Cloak Butterfly
  • Blue ant … Blue ant? … yeah, blue ant!
  • Shiny blue fly.
  • Grey bee 2 cm
  • Blue wasp 2 cm
  • Blue grey bee 1.5 cm
  • Blue grey bee 2 cm
  • Black wasp 1 cm
  • Black bee-fly 1 cm
  • Beetle-like bee 1.5 cm
  • Small round beetle with grey scribbles on its back 5 mm
  • Yellow bee with black stripes 1.5 cm
  • Yellow and black bee 1.5 cm
  • Multiple tiny bees and wasps ± 5 mm
  • Black hornet 4 cm.
  • Black bumble bee 4 cm
  • Yellow bumble bee 3 cm
  • Yellow jacket 3 cm
  • Black and white striped bee (fat) 2 cm … and
  • Wasp with red abdomen with black lightning strike decoration, like a black widow …

red copyGold fur and black chitin is a very lovely look …
P1600955 Here’s what it looks like in flight …P1600964

And not a single bee, wild or domesticated, in the orchard. Does it really seem an accident that domesticated bees are dying out? The poor things are as poisoned as we are. Now, just so you can share in this glimpse of a possible future for beekeeping, here’s a video, a bad video, a wobbly video with a ridiculous airplane filling it with NOISE, but, still, full of bees, for your pleasure…

They care not one bit whether a human stands in their tree or not. Got that? We’re not the story. Culturally, in these parts wild bees are considered excellent pollinators and … well, that’s about it. But it’s not about pollinating a future crop, and it’s not about honey. It’s about the presence of a crop right now. One ignored by humans. One that causes hay fever among humans with non-localized immune systems damaged by human environments. One that nonetheless provides pollen. Huge amounts of pollen. Here’s the skinny on that:

pollen

 

That is, um, more protein and less fat than a T-bone steak. And we don’t harvest this stuff? Imagine a world in which there were flowers everywhere, no agricultural chemicals, because they didn’t matter, and we just harvested the pollen and staggered around surrounded by beautiful insects and birds and blue (Blue!) ants. I mean, wouldn’t our work places turn into this?

P1610008Beats flogging burgers at MacDonalds. Look again …
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See? No grease. Humans, it seems, are always the last to know. That’s because we’re still new on this planet. I think the best thing to say to young scientists might be: Get out of the lab! Go and stand in a tree at 3 in the afternoon on a hot day! Thirty minutes there are worth 5 years in a place of higher learning. Oh, and stay out of the orchard! That place can kill you.