Readers’ wildlife photos

May 10, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have bee photos from reader Ruth Berger in Germany. Her notes and IDs are attached, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. All photos are “copyright Ruth Berger.”

Here are some of my pics of wild/native bees, taken with a small automatic handheld camera not really suited for the job. I’d like to keep the copyright (already used some of them for a commercial publication and might do so again), hope that’s not a problem.

I’ve chosen Palearctic species to provide some novelty to US readers. All photos were taken in Frankfurt, Germany, near what used to be a cluster of chemical and pharmaceutical plants before globalization transported production to countries with less regulation. Building used to be prohibited in the vicinity because of concerns about chemical accidents, which made it into a kind of unintended nature reserve on urban land, with an abundance of wild pollinators, their parasites, and birdlife. The soil is sandy from river sediment, the climate is very mild for Germany. Part of the area will be ‘developed’ in the coming years, now that building restrictions have fallen with the demise of the industry.

This is a furrow bee, most probably a female of Halictus scabiosae (great banded furrow bee), a warmth-loving species, resting and sheltering in a Geranium pratense blossom on a cool and windy September day.

This is a bryony sand bee (my translation of the German name, Zaunrübensandbiene, Latin: Andrena florea), unsurprisingly feeding on bryony. This seems be to a largely Central European species, it certainly is abundant here in Frankfurt.

This furry thing, taken a few days ago (at 12 degrees C), is probably a male Osmia cornuta (yellow facial coloring due to pollen?), the European orchard bee, another Central European species, on snowdrops. On the second picture, it’s tackling a snowdrop blossom from below.

The next one is a parasitic cuckoo bee, Sphecoides albilabris (f.), “large blood bee” in German, feeding on Berteroa incana, a plant that attracts lots of wild pollinators. Blood bees are solitary, but I sometimes see them in groups for copulation. Their brood eats the eggs and food stores of other bees, normally Colletes cunicularis, but I suspect it parasitizes Halictus sp. here, which are far more abundant than their regular victims.

After so much red coloring, here is a bee in dark metallic blue, Ceratina charybea, a small, warmth loving species rare in Germany, all of whose brood at this site was destroyed when local authorities decided to clear away the dry thistle stalks they nested in.

21 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Very nice photos! I’ve always had an “automatic” fear of bees…well, not always, but I was apparently stung pretty badly (I think by yellow-jackets) when I was about two or three, so pretty much anything that looks like one triggers a more or less automatic fear reaction…but I think they’re amazing, and beautiful, creatures, even so, and I have gotten better over time.

    1. I’ve lost my fear since I started to watch out for wild bees. The fearlessness will last until I get stung, I suppose. Bees tend to be very tolerant of humans, and different from hoverflies, they are not shy at all and don’t flee if you get close to them. They get attacked (and eaten) quite a lot by wasps and by crab spiders.

  2. “Yesterday” in my note to the snowdrop photos referred to some day in March 😉
    This was a late and unusually cold spring in Germany.

  3. Beautiful bees! I’m sorry to hear part of the area will be developed. The flowers are wonderful too. Thank you!

  4. I’d like to keep the copyright (already used some of them for a commercial publication and might do so again), hope that’s not a problem.

    You already own the copyright – you have done since finger pressed on shutter.
    The ones you’ve had published elsewhere – the people who paid you for licenses representing permission to copy the photos may (or may not) have clauses in the contracts about reproducing them elsewhere. I’d check for that.
    On those occasions when I’ve sent photos (geological ones) for consideration for publication, I’ve sent a medium-resolution version of the photo to the target (which allows them to see what I’ve got, but isn’t high enough resolution to survive large-size reproduction), but with a “banner” of text across the middle of the photo. Thousands of photo-editing programmes will allow you to do this, but take care to not over-write the original files. The tool I use is Irfanview (, mostly because it allows me to automate this – and many other – processes. If I have a few hundred photos from a day hillwalking, I can apply the same procedure (e.g., make a 25% resolution copy, with “[Date] © GravelInspector-Aidan [Filename]” across the middle of the picture in 18% grey 32pt serif text, and file the image into a new directory) to all of them in a few minutes. A minute or two for me to set up the instructions, then several minutes for the computer to do the repetitive work while I make a cuppa. Very useful tool for the jobs I require of it – I’ve paid for my copy – and I use it on both Windows and Linux installations.
    There are literally thousands of other ways to achieve this aim. Use whatever works for you.

  5. Thanks for sharing with us some German bees. Beautiful photos and that blood bee was striking.

    Off topic, is your surname Norwegian? My wife’s surname is Berger and her paternal ancestry is from Norway.

  6. No, plain old German (in my family’s case, it happens to be German Jewish, but it’s certainly not a specifically Jewish name), meaning: “from/of the mountain”, ore, much more rarely: from the town of Bergen (there is a German town called Bergen). I am aware that the name also exists in Norway, though possibly with a slightly different etymology? There is also a French name Berger, with a completely different meaning (shepherd).

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