My family and I live in a cabin of sorts. It is situated in a lovely little patch of woods, which is home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. One of the first things you learn when moving to the country is that there isn’t much of a boundary between your walls and the boundaries of the creatures living just beyond them. Sometimes those boundaries are shared. When we first moved out into the country just over eight years ago now, I was a somewhat surprised (for some…

One of the many species of Cuckoo Bees in Ruficornis Group found in North America. © Clay Bolt | www.claybolt.com

I have become fascinated with Cuckoo Bees (Nomadidae sp). Not only are Cuckoo Bees visually appealing, but they exhibit really interesting behavior. And, as a whole, they are also hard to identify down to the species level without intense scrutiny, even for the experts, which I kind of like (on slightly pathetic note) since I still have so much catching up to do regarding my own bee identification skills.

It occurred to me this past week that one of the reasons that I’ve been having such a wonderful time photographing bees is because the process is a lot like a treasure hunt. While I often may have an idea of what I’m netting, there are many, many more times at this stage when I have no idea of the species that I’ve just captured until I peer –very excitedly– into the net. In part, the chance for new discoveries is due to the sheer number of species…

Last summer, as I walked up my gravel driveway to get the mail I noticed a flurry of activity around several very tiny holes on the hard-packed, clay embankment. I had seen the holes before, but assumed that they belonged to ants. In fact, I had photographed several Big-headed Ants (Pheidole sp) in the same spot during the summer before. However, to my delight, after close inspection, I noticed that the insects that I had noticed were actually Lasioglossum sweat bees.

Andrena cornelli, © Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed last summer when I was first kicking around the idea of this project. If you’re just becoming interested in bees, certain clues, such as food sources, flight times (either season or time of day) and other characteristics can really be useful when trying to get a general idea of a species’ identity. In the case of this species, one…

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed in the summer of 2013 in Highlands, NC when I was first kicking around the idea of this project.  I photographed this male A. cornelli just this past week (April, 2014) in Pickens, South Carolina as it visited a Pinxter Azalea.