..it's off to work we go.
Our small brood of bees, somewhere around 6 in number, is still working hard to keep their nest supplied despite entering the last 10 days of September. A more detailed analysis of the activity today showed about 58 trips from the nest over the course of about 12 hours, mainly by 3 bees, with a little help from a fourth.
As the number of bees under consideration goes up it becomes quite hard to tell one from the other, especially when reviewing CCTV at fast-forward speed. I have to rely mainly on judging the size of each one as well as any distinctive markings and, interestingly, behaviour patterns. We've noticed that each bee has its own behaviour characteristics, whether it's the way it walks, the way it takes off, the way it enters the nest, the roles it takes, the places it heads for etc. By piecing all this together I can generally figure out which one I'm looking at.
It is, of course, greatly helped when several of them appear on screen at once, as in the video below. This acts a bit like a kind of system reset, calibrating my judgement of absolute and relative sizes. I included this clip below, because not only is it fairly rare, but I thought it was fun to see all three heading off to work together and then returning, bulging with pollen! And it helps to judge those relative sizes.
In the clip is the largest worker, a medium worker and the smallest worker in the nest. Perfect calibration!
Among them was the cutest of them all, little tiny bee, who we saw in the nest for the first time last week and finally yesterday we saw her take her first flight and perform her nest memorisation. She actually did a wee 10-second test flight just beforehand too.
After that, there was no stopping her and she has been one of the busiest contributors to the nest pollen supply. She is coming back with bright orange and pale yellow pollen - often together, striped in her pollen baskets. So, it looks like she has found herself two handy locations to keep visiting. It could be that our sunflower patch is one of them.
She's very small in comparison to Big Mamma - the largest and most secretive bee in our nest. She is the queen and she might still be laying. She rarely makes an appearance, but in this clip she showed up at the same time as baby bee, so we can very clearly see the vast difference in sizes:
Little baby bee is brimming with confidence: she leaves without hesitation and always returns with bulging pollen baskets, clearly not afraid to go out hunting hard for the ever scarcening pollen. She hasn't been put off by the wind either; and when she returns, she's straight onto the ramp, under the door and into the nest without a flinch. Mind you, she's so small, she doesn't even touch the entrance flap as she whizzes underneath. She is surely testament to the hard working nature of girl bumblebees!