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Archive for July 27, 2010

Wool Carder Bee – Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods and marshes of New England

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

WOOL CARDER BEE

My daughter, Sadie, happened upon this female wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) and managed to photograph it in the act of “carding wool” this week in Massachusetts. The male wool carder bee sets up his territory and protects the nectar and pollen of the flowers in it from other insects, in the hopes of attracting a female wool carder bee. If he succeeds, mating takes place, after which the female scrapes hairs off of plant stems and leaves (often woolly lamb’s ears or other similar fuzzy plants) within the male’s territory. As she collects the hairs, she forms them into a ball (look between the legs of the bee in the photograph) and flies with it to a cavity which she lines with these hairs. The cavity consists of several cells, in each of which she deposits pollen collected from her mate’s territory as well as an egg, and then seals the cell. When the egg hatches, the larval bee will have a soft bed and a meal awaiting it.