The ‘meadow’ flower patch is buzzing with bees.  Lots of small, gingery bumble bees are working round the new echium blooms, disappearing into each tubular flower for a quick sip of nectar then racing off to the next.  No successful photos of those, for obvious reasons.

 

 

Two other kinds of bees are pollen gathering on the cornflowers.  They pause a little longer so they are easier to photograph.  This fat, fuzzy garden bumble bee is laden with pollen.  It’s hard to see how those frail wings can carry the extra load, but I suppose the bulk of the bee is mostly hair.

 

 

If you click to zoom in you’ll see that this bee is also carrying a couple of mites on its back. Unlike the Varroa mites that spread diseases in honey bees, most bumblebee mites are harmless nest cohabitants, feeding on waste wax and other debris.  When they are ready to move on to a new nest they hitch a ride to a likely flower and wait for a new host to turn up.

 

 

This red tailed bumble bee has a load of pollen but it seems to be stocking up on nectar too.

 

 

This particular bee seems to favour white flowers, which makes it easier to see the structure of the hairy corbiculae or pollen baskets on its back legs.

 

 

The bees have to share the flowers with many other smaller pollinators.  This bee seems unaware that it’s also sharing the load of pollen it has already collected.   Click on the photo (not quite in focus) and you’ll see a tiny pollen beetle grabbing a quick snack.  I don’t know whether it jumped off before the bee buzzed on to the next flower.

(Click on any photo for a closer view)