Dear Readers, it’s been my first week back at work, and while I do love sorting out my spreadsheets I find that I also need a good walk around the garden at lunchtime just to clear my head. I have recently rediscovered a Brain Training app that I last used in 2014 and I am horrified at how much worse my scores are. I’m not sure if the last few years have taken a toll on my mental capabilities or if it’s my ageing brain, but it has brought me up a bit short. I am heartened by the knowledge that brain training only tests how good you are at brain training, but still. I can just about accept that my body is slowing down, but my brain is a different matter.
And so it was that I decided to spend some time with my hemp agrimony.This rather bedraggled flower is so popular with pollinators in my garden that I can forgive it being so dishevelled. It falls over, it turns from an attractive pink to a rather less attractive mottled grey, it drops its petals all over the place and still I love it. Look at this honey bee having a wonderful time on one of the flowers.
But it’s not just the honeybees that love it. Have a look at this chap.
This is a type of hoverfly called a drone fly (Eristalis pertinax), and it bears a striking resemblance to a male honeybee. It flies like a honeybee, it moves its abdomen like a honeybee, and indeed I sometimes think that even the honeybees themselves are confused, though it’s the fly who is more aggressive on the flowers. Here are the two of them together, so that you can compare.
One way to tell the difference is to look at the eyes – flies nearly always have much larger compound eyes than bees. The wings sit at a different angle too. Other factors, like the hairiness of the honeybee, is no help at all as many flies are also hairy. If you are able to get very close, you might notice that flies have the most diminutive of antennae, barely worthy of the name, while those of bees and wasps are much longer and often have a distinctive ‘elbow’ in the middle.If you have a look at this very fine honeybee you can see what splendid antennae s/he has. I wonder what she’s doing on my fence, though? I was briefly worried that she’d gotten herself tanged up in the spider’s web that’s draped behind the wire, but she gave a little shake and set herself free. And I also felt much freer for observing her, and for putting all thoughts of Excel IF statements to one side for a few minutes. There’s nothing like a few minutes outside for putting everything into perspective.