I was planting my baby kale in the garden today, when I noticed a tiny bee, trying to burrow into the soil in my seed-starting tray. I had read about how certain species of bees lay their eggs underground, so I had a pretty good idea what she was up to. Clearly, a seed tray was not an appropriate place for her to be trying to raise her family.
As gently as I could, I lifted her out into the freshly-loosened soil of my garden. This was not an easy task. The little bee was determined to burrow into the dirt, and I was terrified of crushing her.
As soon as I had her safe on the ground, I ran inside to grab my camera. The light was failing, and this little girl was moving fast, so these photos are really terrible. But hey, they're the only photos I've ever taken of this type of bee! Look at her wonderfully hairy legs! I'm charmed by her golden fur.
A quick internet search turns up an alarming number of companies that will kill burrowing bees. Once I filtered out those sites, I learned that there are hundreds of species of mining or digger or andrenid bees, and that some of their burrows can reach two feet deep. I also learned that these little bees are only active at dusk and the early evening. They are crepuscular, which is a world I don't get to use as often as I'd like. Like many of the more "obscure" bee species, these little bees are important pollinators.
If you look at the top photo, you'll see that this little bee is only about a centimeter long. And you will also see that I'm the kind of idiot who takes a yardstick into the garden in order to neatly space my plants. I may be a total dork, but I'm a dork with good photo-documentation.
The little bee tore into the earth, and within seconds, she was gone! The sun was setting, and her little furry bottom glinted golden just before she vanished.
I didn't want to disturb this bee, who had worked so diligently to start her nesting burrow. So I marked the spot with an old tomato cage. I wonder if I'll see her, or her family, some time in the future? Even if I don't, it's nice to know that she found a home in my garden.
While all this was going on, the feral cats stole and ate my leftover lunch.