“Casual observers of bees, of which I am one, have the impression that they take nectar and collect pollen in their fleeting moments while visiting flowers.
“However, the video I recorded this morning in bright sunlight revealed that they could be doing other things as well.
“I was at the swimming pool area in my condo when I noticed a few Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa latipes) lingering on Yellow Alder (Turnera ulmifolia) flowers. They took much longer than the 1 to 2 sec. that I was familiar with.
“What they did became much clearer when the video was reviewed on a large screen. Apparently they were not taking nectar or pollens, but spent time doing personal hygiene under the sun, just like what birds do.
“Sometimes the bees seemed to be turning the petals over for unknown reasons. Eventually it dawned on me that, as they needed to cling on something with their front legs to steady themselves, the petal would invariably turn over when the front legs were holding on to the edges of the petals.
“Above is the edited video showing how the Carpenter Bees clean themselves.”
Note: Yellow Alder (Turnera ulmifolia) is a small shrub native to the Caribbean basin. Clear yellow flowers are produced daily, each lasting several hours before closing at night. New flowers open the next morning. Leaves stay dark green with little or no fertilizer.
Sun Chong Hong
21st January 2014