Friday, May 2, 2014

Metallic-green Bee's Bottom's-up Building Methods

In our back yard we have these amazing bees that build turreted tunnels using their butts - to put it bluntly.
halicted bee peering from burrow
This small, metallic-green bee builds a tower over its hole by excavating small balls of mud from its tunnel and applying them to the top of the turret.  The bee backs up the tunnel, rolls the mud ball into place with its legs, and them packs the mud into place with the posterior tip of its abdomen.
Metallic-green halictid bee building turreted burrow

 Watch this amazing video of a turret-building Halictid bee as it packs the mud into place with its butt.
video

Here are a few more photos of the bee in action.
Here the bee is "checking for level".
halicted bee inspecting turret

 Here is another photo of the bee applying a mud ball to its turret.
Halictid bee making turreted burrow

In this photo, a springtail looks on (from the end of the wood chip) as the bee packs mud into place.
bee building mud tower

   These entertaining bees have been living in our backyard for the last few summers.  They showed up again yesterday!  In the photo below you can see the turret is just in the beginning stages of construction.
Halictid bee tunnel with turrret
   I hope to take some good photos of the bees this summer and see if I can identify the species.  In the meantime we will chuckle every time we think of the bees' funny performances happening in our flowerbed.

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