In my post More about Mason Bees I gave the name of the bee species as Osmia bicolor but it should have been Osmia bicornis. Apologies for that. It has been changed on the website but not before it was sent out in other formats. It would be really good to find Osmia bicolor as it builds its nesting cells in empty snail shells. However, how many shells you would need to look inside before finding an occupied bee nest I don’t know – give it a go.
Anyway, how did Osmia bicornis get its name? As bees have stopped emerging from the tubes on our kitchen table I decided it was time to clear up a bit. Several of the bee cocoons showed no sign of any emergence and, when opened, one of them contained a really fresh, but dead, female Osmia bicornis. I decided to take some photographs through one of my microscopes. And now you can see why the bee is called “bicornis”. To help you orientate, the photo was taken from the side and shows the bee’s head, facing to the right. You can see the large black faceted oval eye and one of the long antennae. The photograph shows one black “horn” projecting forwards with the other horn slightly out of focus on the other side. “Cornus” is Latin for horn. Only the female has the two horns. I don’t know what they are used for – building the mud walls of the nesting cell?
For those interested in photography -the bee head image is a composite stack of 62 individual photographs taken at different focus points. I used Helicon Focus. There are lots of really beautiful insect stacked photographs on the web,
Sally sends her best wishes and would welcome phone calls, emails, or text messages from anyone that does not want to talk about bees.