All posts are copyright Barbara Rogers 2018. Please ask if you wish to share, and give attribution to the author.My ancestry and more personal notes are now at a revised version of "When I Was 75."

Monday, April 17, 2017

A bee or hummingbird?

Last week the Flame Azalea by my parking spot looked like this...

Three days later, it looks like this.

But what stopped me in my tracks were the bees buzzing around them and the azaleas on the other side of the walkway.

Regular bees and wood bees were obvious.  But in the midst of the Flame Azalea, there was a longer one, blacker, with a strange tail which stuck out.  As he fluttered from flower to flower, I couldn't see his wings, but saw a long beak pointing into the flowers.

I asked him to stay there while I fumbled in my purse for my no avail.  He took off, and I just remembered how he was longer than a bee, had a tail like a bird, the feathers were obvious though tiny, and he was grey/black and had some yellow stripes on his back.

So I thought, a Bee Humingbird, how fortunate I was!

Bee Hummingbirds are the smallest known living birds in the world - being comparable in size to bumble bees and are lighter than a Canadian or U.S. penny. Females are slightly larger than males.
Bee Hummingbirds measure mostly between 1.97 - 2.36 inches or 5 - 6 cm in length - including beak and tail; and they weigh between 0.06 - 0.07 oz or 1.6 - 1.9 g. 

But they are in Cuba!  And it really wasn't anywhere near the size of a regular hummingbird (Ruby Throated like we have all summer)

So then I went for bees. And didn't find anything like him.

 And then I came back an hour later, and took pictures of him, (though it may be a her, I'll just continue to say him.)

By now I notice he really seems like a bug, aren't those legs sticking out under his body?

You can't miss his irridescent yellow stripes...not exactly on his tail, but on the tail end of his body.

And here is the other big bee which is also pollinating on the same plants - the wood bee.  They have to land to eat, so none of that fluttering of the others.

So far the closest thing I've found on the net is a moth called the Snowberry Clearwing.

And there's a link HERE that differentiates from Hummingbirds and Hummingbird Moths...of which there are 1200 species.  So the Snowberry Clearwing that I'm showing next, isn't exactly like the one we have, but it's closer than anything else!

 Snowberry Clearwing

 Bumblebee moth

Bumblebee moth

Hummingbird clearwing

Well, I wish mine had stood still, or I had a faster shutter speed to capture all these details.

But they sure did give me an afternoon of research. And I'm glad they aren't bee moths, which apparently lay their eggs in the bees hives in the wax. 

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