Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

And on the Lindheimer’s senna…

with 49 comments

Visiting the Lindheimer’s senna flowers (Senna lindheimeriana) that you saw last time were various kinds of insects, including several small metallic sweat bees.

For a closer look at the pollen-gatherer, click below to enlarge an excerpt from another frame.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2018 at 4:41 AM

49 Responses

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  1. What a jewel of a bee.


    October 1, 2018 at 4:47 AM

    • That’s a good way to put it. I believe the ancient Egyptians treated some insects as if they were jewels.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 6:45 AM

      • Your comment reminds me that I have a pair of earrings in the shape of a scarab. Though they are gold and turquoise, they are not nearly as pretty as the sweat bee.


        October 1, 2018 at 7:22 AM

        • You prompted me to search online for jewelry in the form and colors of a sweat bee like the one in my photographs. I found hardly any, and none as bright as “my” bee. I also found a few instances of people selling an actual sweat bee in a small glass terrarium.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 1, 2018 at 7:35 AM

          • Et s’il vous arrivait de trouver sur le Web un bijou aussi splendide que cette abeille (et vos photos!), s.v.p. faites-moi signe. Je suis vivement intéressée à l’acheter. Quel beau hasard que je lise ce post alors que je travaille depuis plusieurs semaines sur un post qui montre le lien créatif de certains bijoux avec les fleurs et les insectes. Magnifique photo Steve.

            3C Style

            October 9, 2018 at 8:32 AM

            • Merci, Dominique. À vous de créer le bijou en forme d’abeille verte-métallique que je n’ai toujours pas trouvé. Allez-y!

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 9, 2018 at 1:46 PM

              • Je suis très tentée en effet d’essayer de trouver une façon de créer un bijou avec ce design. La photo est si sublime.

                3C Style

                October 9, 2018 at 2:02 PM

                • Merci encore une fois, Dominique. Ces petites abeilles sont merveilleuses.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 9, 2018 at 2:06 PM

  2. Wow


    October 1, 2018 at 6:14 AM

  3. Wowee! I sure do like the metallic green on that yellow. The bee wings are cool too!


    October 1, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    • You’ve upped the “Wow” to a “Wowee!” I hope you see these pretty little bees in Oklahoma, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 8:02 AM

  4. I love these little bees. I don’t see them often, but when I do, it’s a cause for celebration. I’ve always thought of them as jewel-like, at least partly because my mother had a small, glittery pin shaped like a bee, and the insects remind me of that.

    The yellow senna makes an especially nice background. It occurs to me that I’ve only seen these bees on yellow or white flowers. A quick image search showed a few on purple coneflowers, and one on some species of ruellia, but otherwise it was all yellow and white. Interesting.


    October 1, 2018 at 8:28 AM

    • From Thor Hanson’s Buzz, which I’m reading, I’ve learned that bees see from yellow-orange through violet and into the ultraviolet. Many flowers that look a certain mostly solid color to us have portions that reflect ultraviolet light, and that therefore attract bees. I don’t know if senna or the flowers you mentioned are among those that reflect ultraviolet.

      Back in the visible (to humans) world, I agree that the bright yellow works wonderfully well at setting off this bee’s metallic green. Good luck in coming across more of these little wonders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 10:08 AM

  5. I love these little flying gems, too. Linda’s comment reminded me of the yellow succulents that grow on the Galapagos, and the creature that eats them. I cannot remember what creature that was, but whatever it was, it will approach a human if the human is wearing yellow. I’m thinking it was the tortoise, and the succulent is a species of portulaca.


    October 1, 2018 at 9:11 AM

    • A fellow who lives on the other side of Galveston Bay has a big garage/workshop where he keeps the door open. All of the various metal parts that lift the door were painted red, and he couldn’t keep the hummingbirds from flying in, seemingly unable to figure out how to escape. He finally painted all the red metal with black paint — problem solved. He hasn’t had a single hummer wander in since.


      October 1, 2018 at 10:24 AM

    • I wish I could’ve looked up from this little flying gem and found myself in the Galapagos. I’d be attracted to those islands regardless of their color. Portulaca would be okay, as would Portugal, which I’d be glad to return to, having spent the summer of 1966 there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 10:57 AM

      • I imagine that it is very beautiful there, although perhaps different from when you were there. Was that Peace Corps that took you there?


        October 1, 2018 at 2:55 PM

        • No, the Peace Corps has never had any volunteers in western Europe that I’m aware of. I spent the summer of 1966 as part of a Gulbenkian Foundation group of students in Lisbon who wanted to improve their Portuguese. The previous summer in New York I’d taken an intensive introductory course in the language, and the summer in Portugal was my chance to deal with the language in its native country. When I applied to the Peace Corps in the fall of 1967 after returning from Portugal, I put Brazil as my first preference. I figured, how many applicants are they gonna get who already know a fair amount of Portuguese? Bureaucracy being what it is, though, I got offered Honduras, and that’s where I spent 1968 and 1969.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 1, 2018 at 3:03 PM

          • We had a Portugese tutor when we lived in Brazil, but it was fairly hopeless. I confess I had very little motivation! My dad picked it up though.


            October 2, 2018 at 8:24 AM

            • As a French major I was highly motivated. I also learned some Spanish through the Portuguese class.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 2, 2018 at 8:45 AM

              • Yes, that makes sense. I just got confused. I still do, when trying to learn a little Spanish. I keep wanting to revert to French.


                October 3, 2018 at 10:04 AM

  6. A gem of a fly. The metallic insects are my favorites and when the light hits them right they go all iridescent. I’ve never photographed a sweat bee, but dogbane beetles are beauties.

    Steve Gingold

    October 1, 2018 at 10:04 AM

  7. Beautiful image. Senna is another species that is planted in the butterfly garden here. Florida has two native ones, Senna mexicana and Senna ligustrina. They require a keen eye to ID as they are so widespread and similar.

    Some of the species of Senna and Chamaecrista (partrige pea) were once grouped with Cassia, and their flowers look alike. Now the Cassia genus is used for trees only and Chamaecrista usually has a smaller sized flower. I once saw the partrige pea (Chamaecrista fasciculate) in P.R.. The Cassia flower trees are used extensively in both the tropics and South Florida.


    October 1, 2018 at 10:31 AM

    • It’s good to hear you’ve got a couple of native Senna species in Florida. The one shown here has a rubbery, rather unpleasant smell. Do you know if that’s the case for the two down there?

      I’d read that some plants in the genus Senna used to be classified as Cassia. Partridge pea is quite common here in central Texas, and I’ve shown it a bunch of times over the years.

      It’s interesting that the article you were referring to (I think) says that Cassia “was a wastebasket taxon for a long time, used to classify plants that did not fit well anywhere else.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 11:09 AM

  8. Wonderful yellow…so warm!!


    October 1, 2018 at 5:13 PM

  9. Beautiful bee+beautiful flower=wonderful image !!

    Bernie Kasper

    October 1, 2018 at 5:32 PM

  10. I don’t know if the ones here smell or not. At some point I became confused because they all look alike here, except for the Partridge pea which I know is smaller.


    October 1, 2018 at 5:39 PM

    • I’ve not detected an unpleasant scent from partridge pea. We have a second Senna species here and I can’t remember if I’ve detected a smell from it. I’ll try to remember to find out the next time I run across it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2018 at 6:51 PM

  11. The metallic green of the bee complements the golden yellow of the senna wonderfully, Steve.


    October 1, 2018 at 10:39 PM

  12. Those bees are flying jewels. Beautiful portrait, Steve.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 2, 2018 at 2:00 PM

    • Several other people have also seen this bee as a little jewel. I’m fortunate to see this species from time to time in Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2018 at 2:13 PM

  13. Wonderful colours Steve! Electric .. 🙂


    October 6, 2018 at 12:41 AM

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