wild bees and native bees

A tiny pole dancer

A girl’s gotta earn a living somehow. This little bee, probably a sweat bee in the genus Lasioglossum, has taken to dancing around the filaments of a Phacelia flower. The bee is so tiny that she can’t reach the pollen on the anthers without crawling up the narrow stalk. Once there, she has to balance in a precarious spot while she loads pollen into the scopa on her legs.

These bees are fascinating to watch as they climb, sometimes straddling two of the filaments at once, sometimes falling down backwards into the petals, sometimes seeming to pause and rest.

Altogether, the sweat bee is not much bigger than the honey bee’s compound eye. The honey bee doesn’t worry about the length of the filaments. She just belly flops onto the flower and crushes the filaments under her weight.



Wrapped around the pole, charming the audience, wearing nothing but purple tights. © Rusty Burlew.


This is the maneuver where you wrap yourself around the pole sideways. © Rusty Burlew.


Once parallel to the ground, you extend yourself out to the side. © Rusty Burlew.


Vertical once again, basking in the limelight. © Rusty Burlew.


A big old honey bee just flops herself down and bends all the poles under her weight. She’s a monster in comparison to the little sweat bee. © Rusty Burlew.


  • Very beautiful photos, Rusty! The combination of colors is superb. And the little bee is indeed a talented artist! The honey bee looks good on the flower, too, even though she’s a little monster 🙂 I wish there were more wildflowers where I keep my hive. I am trying to convince the owners to plant some, hopefully I will succeed.

  • Wow, what a perfect shots! Realizing the size of tiny ones compared to a regular honey bee – WOW again!!! You already answered in different posts equipment you use, but those look like they have been taken with microscope rather than with a macro. It must have taken ages to catch them in perfect positions. Sooo tiny! Bravo!

  • Amazing photography, colors and subject matter. Clearly you have abundant talent, ability and imagination. Thanks Rusty for sharing.

    Love your blog.

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