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Orchid bees

IMG_5591-1 (dragged) copyToday was a beach day, for I’m taking time out to chill and enjoy catching up with friends. What better place to do that than the palm-fringed beaches of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The sun was high and strong, as was the surf. On the way back from the beach, as I cycled down the road to where I’m staying, I saw many beautiful tropical butterflies. As I rode slowly, negotiating the potholes with cow-horn handlebars, I noticed a glimmer of bright blue at the side of me. Thinking it was small butterfly species I had not seen before I stopped to take a closer look. Rather than a butterfly, it actually turned out to be an Orchid Bee, completely iridescent as it shimmered in the sunshine.


Orchid bee, (Euglossini) Costa Rica. (c) Andrew Gray

Orchid bees are stunningly beautiful, as I have witnessed during our field course. We saw some at CATIE, the famous agricultural college we visited in Turrialba, and also at La Selva Biological Research Station, where we spent the whole of last week. There are many species of Orchid bee and they come in almost every colour you can imagine – mostly they are green, but some incorporate all the colours of the rainbow on their reflective shiny bodies.


Dr Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Entomology at The Manchester Museum. (c) Andrew Gray

Dr Dmitri Logunov, our highly respected Curator of Entomology (pictured), who has been teaching on the field course this year, actually supervised a student project that specifically focused on researching these wonderful creatures. Ruby, his student, used a variety of different scents to assess the feeding responses of these neotropical bees and also surveyed for the different species occurring at La Selva.

Below is a super clip of one of the bee species Ruby was working with, that was filmed by Alex Villegas. You may also be interested to read more about  the wonderful work Dmitri does and to learn about some of the other fascinating insects in his department by following his excellent blog: Entomolgy Manchester


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