A Buzzing in the Air

Spending time observing the changes in the spring garden recently I heard A Buzzing in the Air. The crab apple tree that overhangs the fence from the neighbour’s yard was covered in blossoms.


Crab Apple Tree in full blossom

Crab Apple Tree overhanging the fence

Silently I watched as the little bees buzzed from flower to flower collecting the nectar to take back to the hive. Grabbing my camera I tried to capture the bees up close on film but they were moving too fast for me to adjust the settings and zoom in quickly, I had to be satisfied with the sound.

Do Bees actually Buzz?

It’s interesting when you think about it. Bees don’t actually make any sound. By using their flight muscles to pull on the springy thorax wall, making it ‘ping’ in and out, their wings beat between 200-230 cycles per second. This creates vibrations in the air that our human ears pick up and out brain interprets as a specific buzzing sound.

Buzz Pollination

Did you know that some Bees mostly Bumble Bees, which can’t be found on mainland Australia, only Tasmania, can buzz when visiting flowers not just when flying? They purposefully vibrate their wing muscles and thorax to shake the pollen off the flower’s anthers and onto their own bodies. This is called ‘Buzz Pollination” and some flowers have specifically adapted to this method.

Pollen Baskets

When bees have gathered pollen on their bodies, they brush it down into hairy receptacles on their hind legs. The scientific name for these receptacles is ‘corbiculae’ but I like the more common term of ‘Pollen Basket’. A few days ago I was again quietly observing some bees buzzing around the blossoms of our Sour Orange tree. This time I had my phone on me and as the bees were spending a little longer at each flower I was able to snap a couple of not so blurry photos. I was rather excited to be able to identify the heavily laden ‘Pollen Baskets’ of these very busy buzzy girls. These amazing little creatures are able to carry about half their body weight in pollen back to the hive.

You don’t need to have fruit trees growing in your garden to see Bees at work and hear their Buzzing in the Air. You might have some native flowering plants like grevilleas, eucalyptus or acacia. Or you could plant some easy to grow herbs in the garden or in pots to attract bees. Here is a list of just five herbs that you can use to flavour your own cooking that the bees will love…..you will have to leave enough to let the plant flower though.

Thyme                Lavender               Lemon Balm               Sage                    Coriander

Get out in the garden and try to capture those busy little bees with your camera. If you get some great shots, don’t forget to send them in to Brontee Bee.

Regards, Scarlet Honey Eater


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