Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Orchid bee

A call from my friend and orchid collector, Claudio Serique, reminded me that this particular insect plays a major role in the pollination of some orchids. I hadn't forgotten this fact but I was still perplexed over what to call the insect that I had photographed visiting the orchid blooms in the above image. My first reaction was to call it a "big bee", but then I changed my mind. Somehow the concept of a bee didn't fit. Then I heard the the word "beetle" being used by a local person at Bosque Santa Lucia. I was still confused, so when in doubt, go to the experts in entomology. I started with Latin American Insects and Entomology by Charles L. Hogue, which was given to me by Robert Stein, retired professor of biology in Buffalo, New York. I did a lot of flipping through the big book until I came to the section on bees. Sure enough, to my surprise, there it was, an "orchid bee". Having the correct name, it was then easy to search the internet for more references, and there are many. This one helped a lot to sort out the genera and species of orchid bees. Here's a more esoteric reference originating from a blogger, who is a specialist in perfumes. It's worth noting that most orchid bees are much smaller than the one in my image. Our friend is referred to as "bumblebee-like", which makes me realize that's what I was trying to say when I described it as a "big bee".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool photographs. Another good resource is "Orchid Bees of Tropical America: Biology and Field Guide" by David Roubik and Paul Hanson.