Now that I’m forced to live in the city, I have a greater appreciation for my opportunities to visit nature. Today, I spent some time just looking around at the little things.
What I Learned About Bees
I watched bees moving among flowers for quite some time, since I had nothing better to do. They don’t seem to mind your presence if you’re not obtrusive. Bumble bees are apparently much quicker pollinators than honey bees. Different sized bumble bees have different pitches to the sound of their flight, and they each produce a characteristic, punctuated “working buzz” when perched upon a flower. Then they promptly jump up and move to a different flower, but it’s almost never the one right next to where they were. Instead, they’ll just randomly fly around until they locate something to sit on, and they’ll repeat the process. Even when they come back to revisit an earlier area, they seem to know which flowers they’ve already done. Honey bees work much slower and silently, and aren’t as loud when flying either.
The two groups of bees appear to ignore each other, and are not territorial over the coveted nectar. I did notice that there are some bumble bees that are much larger than others, and they’ll get in fights amongst themselves if they get too close to the same flower, tumbling in a buzzing fit to the ground. Still, bumble bees never fight honey bees, based on my observations.
What I Learned About Caterpillars
These little guys make one gigantic cocoon in a tree and all squirm about on/within it. The structure is multi-leveled so they can have enough living space, and some bold adventurers leave the confines to spread thin silk threads down the trunk and out along branches. It seems that the caterpillars will only walk on areas marked by the silk; presumably the threads lead to food. I watched a couple of them following the strings but they usually turned around and headed back before they made it anywhere.
I think they huddle on the side facing the sun. Breathing heavily on them didn’t seem to have an effect, but blowing made them scatter. This might indicate that they’re more sensitive to cold than they are to heat. There are also what appear to be caterpillar “skeletons” in the cocoon, possibly from cannibalistic activity.