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Flying Jewels Of The Rainforest
Beautiful Blue and Gorgeous Green Orchid Bees
Orchid Bees are incredible colorful creatures. They look like shimmering jewels flying through the rainforests and cloud forests of Central and South America. The different species of Orchid Bees show many bright metallic colors - deep blue, bottle green or gold -as you will see in the stunning photos here. Bees and bugs also inspire beautiful bee jewelry and insect jewelry.
I first encountered the exotic Orchid Bees, otherwise known as Euglossine bees, at the Smithsonian Institute Research Centre on the island of Barra Colorado, in Panama. Barra Colorado was once a hill-top covered in rainforest. When the Panama Canal was built, the valleys in the area were flooded, and now, surrounded by the waters of the Panama Canal, it is home to many rainforest species of plants and animals.
About 200 different species of Orchid Bees have been identified so far. One species, Euglossa viridissima, has moved north to establish itself in the United States, but the others are exclusively found in South and Central America.
This photo was taken in 2004 by Jacob Rus and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
What Are Orchid Bees?
The Orchid bees or Euglossine bees are mostly solitary species, though a few are communal, and some are eusocial. In eusocial species, there is social organisation and a division of labour, so different individuals have different tasks to do.
Generally, females collect pollen and nectar as food. These also collect resins, mud and other materials to build their nests. Males use some of the same food plants are also used by the males.
Male orchid bees collect volatile chemical compounds from orchids, pollinating these plants at the same time. euglossine males. The chemicals are transferred into sponge-like cavities inside the hind legs.
Males display at special sites in the forest, releasing the 'fragrances' they have collected. This is believed to attract females for mating.
As the males are such avid scent collectors, some synthetic compounds can be used as bait to attract and collect them for study. These include methyl salicylate, eugenol and methyl cinnamate (pleasant smelling to humans) skatole (foul-smelling).
Orchid Bee PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Buzzin' Bee Jewelry
I'm guessing that you've read this far because you like bees and bugs..? In that case, you may like (or know someone who likes) bug and bee jewelry. There is much to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites.
Beautiful bumblebee pendant, in sterling silver, with black and tan enamel decoration. Diamond accents add a little shine to the body and wings. 18-inch sterling silver cable chain.
Gold Plated bee brooch, decorated with Austrian rhinestone, and measuring approximately 3 centimetres in length and width.
And Barra Colorado Island
The Smithsonian Institute Research station on Barra Colorado Island is uniquely placed to study the rainforest and the animals that live their.
Barra Colorado was formed when the Panama Canal was created. It is, in fact, the top of a hill, surrounded by flooded valleys.
During my three weeks at Barra Colorado, I had numerous encounters with exotic creatures. One of the most amazing things I saw was a huge spider creche. Many webs had been woven more-or-less into one huge web, several feet across. In this giant web, there were hundreds, or perhaps thousands of spiders. Most spiders live alone and, in fact, are aggressive towards other spiders. Social spiders like these, however, live in groups or colonies.
Not an insect, but still a "creepy-crawlie", perfect for someone who wants an unusual belly pin!
Jewelry for Insect lovers
Whether you like ladybug, butterflies or more unusual critters, there are beautiful necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings and more to charm you.
For true bug lovers, this a stunning, realistic and interesting piece. The pendant measures 2.5" and is painted with a semi-translucent red-brown enamel paint.
Bees for Kids
Even young children can identify bees - although they might be a little surprised by the beautiful Orchid bees, just as I was.