New pollinators visited the garden and heralded the official arrival of Summer

Honeybees on garlic bloom

I was standing outside in the late evening the day before the official arrival of Summer, and I noticed some activity on a lone volunteer garlic bloom growing at the edge of the pond. I quickly got my camera, installed my new zoom lens and made my way back out to garden to try and take some shots.

The garlic bloom was covered in little golden specks of pollen. Some honeybees were gathering sweetness from the tiny flowers while other honeybees were gathering water a few feet away on the rock of the pond waterfall.

Honeybee gathering water on pond waterfall rocks

I focused my attention on the garlic blossom again. Then I saw her!

Valley Carpenter bee on garlic bloom

I had never seen this garden visitor before. I didn't know what she was (or that she was a SHE) until I took my shots back in to the computer and did some quick internet hunting.

She is a female Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta)!

The honeybees moved aside and continued gathering while their much larger cousin did her share of gathering. I noticed she had a sister that was buzzing around the other flowers in the vicinity. When the first female I saw would buzz away to check out the other flowers, the honeybees would go back to gathering from the spots they had vacated while she was there.

Valley Carpenter bee leaving garlic bloom

Ms. Valley Carpenter Bee came back around and seemed to be particularly smitten with the nearby Japanese Water Iris. I didn't think the iris were a favorite of pollinators but I was wrong.

Valley Carpenter Bee on Japanese Water Iris

Ms. Valley Carpenter Bee loved the welcoming throats of the iris bloom because she could fit her whole round fat body inside without much effort.

Valley Carpenter Bee in Japanese Water Iris

I was also surprised to discover later that the Valley Carpenter Bee is usually in Southern California and in the Central Valley of California (the large flat topography running vertically through the center of our state). I don't know why these two girls are so far from "home" close to the waters of the San Francisco Bay, but I'm happy they came for a visit so I could see them for the first time.

And, ironically, this week just happens to be National Pollinator Week. Maybe the girls were doing a special publicity tour?
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  1. My brother has seen some of these at his home in Antioch too :)

  2. What fabulous photos. It is rose season in my garden now, but there is so much rain there are no bees in sight.

  3. Amazing photos! I'm glad the honeybees are back.

  4. OK, she is gorgeous, but the "new zoom lens" caught my eye.

    What type did you get, and by the way, your shots are gorgeous.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  5. Jen,

    I got a 75-300mm F4.5-5.6 zoom/telephoto lens. Since I shoot with a Sony a100 the lens is a Sony as well. And I couldn't be happier!

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  6. I totally *heart* bees. I wonder if they get garlic breath....?


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