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Bees in the Kerio Valley, Kenya.

I just spent a lovely day looking at bees in the Kerio Valley (one of my favourite parts of the world!). An extension of the Great Rift Valley in northwestern Kenya, the Kerio Valley is a beautiful and diverse landscape that is especially rich in bees.

The Kerio Valley is also home to a large number of small-scale farmers who rely on subsistence agriculture to support their families. Many of the crops grown in the region are dependent on pollinators and it is an area where I have been looking at pollinator diversity and the interface of agriculture and biodiversity for some years.

View from Iten looking down into the Kerio Valley
View from Iten looking down into the Kerio Valley

 

Here are a few of the bees that I encountered while walking around the farms on the floor of the valley near Biretwo.

Early in the morning the Morning Glories (Ipomoea) were in full bloom and peering into one of their deep dark hearts I found a Macrogalea bee hiding in the bottom of the floral tube.

Macrogalea bee in an Ipomoea flower
Macrogalea bee in an Ipomoea flower

The bee seemed to be struggling and as it emerged into the sunlight I could see why: it was overloaded with the flowers’ sticky pollen and could barely move!

Macrogalea_Ipomoea-LR12

 

Overloaded with pollen!
Overloaded with pollen!

 

Nearby there were some yellow flowers blooming and they were being thoroughly ‘worked’ by a small bee in the Leafcutter Bee family (Megachilidae). Each bee landed on the flower and then circled it in an anti-clockwise direction while packing pollen into the special ‘scopa’ (pollen carrying region) on the underside of its’ abdomen.

Combing pollen from its' face!
Combing pollen from its’ face!

 

Not to be outdone were the Amegilla bees who zipped about between the flowers. Here is one sizing some some Gynandropsis:

Amegilla bee in action
Amegilla bee in action

 

Some smaller bees were also working the Gynandropsis flowers. They clung to the anthers while simultaneously trying to pull off the pollen:

Collecting Gynandropsis pollen
Collecting Gynandropsis pollen

 

Sunning itself demurely on a leaf was a beautiful bee known as Crocisaspidia:

Handsome Crocisaspidia bee
Handsome Crocisaspidia bee

One of the most common bees visiting the flowers were the Seladonia, who are tiny but beautiful metallic bees that often look like they are made from gold:

Seladonia bee hard at work.
Seladonia bee hard at work.

 

Among all the different bees were some interesting flies, including this lovely Hoverfly (Syrphidae) that is an exquisite mimic of a wild bee.

Do I look like a bee?
Do I look like a bee?

More from the wonderful world of insects soon!

 

Comments

  1. edwin keitany
    kenya
    July 28, 2013, 5:46 pm

    such an impressive article, keep it up. You may visit my blog for more info http://www.keriovalleyadventures.blogspot.com and http://www.keriovalleyadventures.wordpress.com

  2. Ima Ryma
    July 9, 2013, 3:22 am

    Happy hour at Dew Drop Inn,
    A Morning Glory wat’ring hole,
    To give a buzz with pure pollen
    This macrogalea bee’s soul.
    Bellied up to the bar alone,
    My eyes adjusted to the dark,
    It is bliss in that pollen zone.
    Blooms know that I’m an easy mark.
    So bottoms up, the pollen sticks,
    As it comes time to make my way
    To do my pollinating tricks,
    And fly into the light of day.

    Morning Glory pollen for me.
    Just how loaded can one bee be!