Thursday, July 17, 2008

Have you ever seen a green bee?

Family: Apidae •
Genus: Euglossa (Latreille, 1802) •
Species: viridissima •
Country of Origin: N/A •
Common Names: Green Orchid Bee •

Myrmecophila tibicinis w/Euglossa viridissima these orchid bees look like little emeralds. They hover around like a humming birds and were very curious about me taking their picture! Coming right up to me to check me out. They come to my Myrmecophila tibicinis and scrape the petals of the flowers. I'm not really sure for what purpose [please watch the video it explains their unusual behavior ].

update7-18-2008 My friend Eric H. pointed out to me that these are actually orchid bees! Be sure to check out his orchid species photographs blog and plant world blog! Thanks Eric!

Euglossine bees, also called orchid bees, are the only group of corbiculate bees whose non-parasitic members do not all possess eusocial behavior. Most of the species are solitary, though a few are communal, or exhibit simple forms of eusociality. There are about 200 described species, distributed in five genera: Euglossa, Eulaema, Eufriesea, Exaerete and the monotypic Aglae, all exclusively occurring in South or Central America (though one species, Euglossa viridissima, has become established in the United States). The latter two genera are cleptoparasites in the nests of other orchid bees. All except Eulaema are characterized by brilliant metallic coloration, primarily green, gold, and blue. Females gather pollen and nectar as food from a variety of plants, and resins, mud and other materials for nest building. Some of the same food plants are also used by the males, which however leave the nest upon hatching and do not return.

from Wikipedia

Myrmecophila tibicinis
Myrmecophila is a genus of plants belonging to the family Orchidaceae. Species in this genus are either ephiphytic or lithophytic in their growth habit. Their slightly scented flowers are produced on pole like growths that extend upwards from 1 to 4 meters high and take up to 4 months to develop. Several of the Schomburgkia species were transferred into the genus Myrmecophila by Robert Allen Rolfe in 1917.

The name Myrmecophila is a derivative of the word myrmecophile and refers to the symbiotic relationship with colonies of ants that are usually found living in the large, hollowed-out, banana-like pseudobulbs. An opening in the base of each pseudobulb serves as an entrance for the ants which harvest nectar from the peduncles and flowers and forage on other plants in the community. The ants associated with Myrmecophila tibicinis pack many of the pseudobulbs with debris that includes other dead ants, a variety of insects, pieces of plant material, seeds and sand. Myrmecophila tibicinis directly utilizes minerals of the organic debris ("garbage dumps") deposited by the ants inside the hollow pseudobulbs. Since the open-canopied trees of the tropics can often be nutrient poor habitats, a small input of nutrients from insects can have a significant effect on plant survival and growth rates. Myrmecophila tibicinis can grow quite well in the absence of ants, though it is quite rare to find an uninhabited plant. The species of ant responsible for forming colonies in Myrmecophila tibicinis are as follows: Brachymyrmex, Camponotus planatus, Camponotus abdominalis, Camponotus rectangularis, and Crematogaster brevispinosa, Monomorium ebenium, Paratrechina longicornis, Zacryptocerus maculatus, and Ectatomma tuberculatum.
The type species Myrmecophila tibicinis is distributed in the tropical areas from southern Mexico through most of Central America.
from Wikipedia

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Have you ever seen a green bee? by Eric Bronson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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chey said...

Those bees are really interesting! I've never seen them before. Thanks for sharing!

spookydragonfly said...

Wow - what pretty bees...can't say that I've ever seen them before! Great photos - all of your photos are beautiful! Thanks for the visit! By the way... you have my sympathy with the ant situation...every spring we get alot in the cabin!!

中島 彰信 said...

I saw such a beautiful bee for the first time. I have seen a green fly in Japan. Is a green bee rare also in the United States?

I likE plants! said...

@中島 彰信
They're are now getting established here in south Florida. I really enjoy seeing them. They are curious when I come with the camera. They hover around and investigate me and then go back to the flowers when they realize I'm not a threat!!

june said...

you learn something every day. I never knew these bees existed. they look like living jewels. i love your site!

Linda Kay said...

I'm in Oakland Park, FL and have an orchid bee that has made it's home in a birdhouse hanging as a decoration by my front door! He/she closes up the hole at night and opens it up in the morning...I rarely see the bee itself but the resin comes and goes daily for awhile then there is no activity for weeks at a time, then it's back with the daily opening and interesting! And I don't even have an orchids in my small yard!

I likE plants! said...

@Linda Kay
That's awesome! They are quite interesting to watch. It seems I have a whole bunch now, each living in their own little hole in the bannister in front of my house. I suspect they are attracted to other scented flowering plants as well.


Matthew Mycroft said...

I see these bees around my house sometimes and have never seen anything like them before, they're color is amazing in real life and acted exactly how you described (came right up to me with curiosity) and didn't know what to make of them :] but now thanks to you I know what they are.