I just spent a lovely day looking at bees in the Kerio Valley (one of my favourite parts of the world!). An extension of the Great Rift Valley in northwestern Kenya, the Kerio Valley is a beautiful and diverse landscape that is especially rich in bees.
The Kerio Valley is also home to a large number of small-scale farmers who rely on subsistence agriculture to support their families. Many of the crops grown in the region are dependent on pollinators and it is an area where I have been looking at pollinator diversity and the interface of agriculture and biodiversity for some years.
Here are a few of the bees that I encountered while walking around the farms on the floor of the valley near Biretwo.
Early in the morning the Morning Glories (Ipomoea) were in full bloom and peering into one of their deep dark hearts I found a Macrogalea bee hiding in the bottom of the floral tube.
The bee seemed to be struggling and as it emerged into the sunlight I could see why: it was overloaded with the flowers’ sticky pollen and could barely move!
Nearby there were some yellow flowers blooming and they were being thoroughly ‘worked’ by a small bee in the Leafcutter Bee family (Megachilidae). Each bee landed on the flower and then circled it in an anti-clockwise direction while packing pollen into the special ‘scopa’ (pollen carrying region) on the underside of its’ abdomen.
Not to be outdone were the Amegilla bees who zipped about between the flowers. Here is one sizing some some Gynandropsis:
Some smaller bees were also working the Gynandropsis flowers. They clung to the anthers while simultaneously trying to pull off the pollen:
Sunning itself demurely on a leaf was a beautiful bee known as Crocisaspidia:
One of the most common bees visiting the flowers were the Seladonia, who are tiny but beautiful metallic bees that often look like they are made from gold:
Among all the different bees were some interesting flies, including this lovely Hoverfly (Syrphidae) that is an exquisite mimic of a wild bee.
More from the wonderful world of insects soon!