Adrena, the Solitary Bee
Adrena the Solitary Bee awoke one fine spring morning with a feeling of purpose. This was a new feeling she had never felt before. She had been lying dormant in her wax coated chamber underground since late last spring. She had distant memories of the time she had spent underground developing. She remembered the taste of pollen and nectar and recalled memories of tunnels. In the distance a faint voice interrupted her train of thought.
“Adrena…” it whispered.
Adrena wondered where this voice came from as she began to push herself up through the soil. After some tough digging she burst through the surface and into the light of day.
“Adrena, come visit us…” there seemed to be more than one voice now.
It was coming from a ring of flowers outlining a vernal pool straight ahead. Adrena buzzed towards the sound. She raced so fast and so curiously that she bumped right into another solitary bee! After catching their breath, Adrena got a good look at the handsome male bee she had run into and blushed.
“You took my breath away!” smiled the male bee.
Adrena smiled wide and forgot all about the voice that had stirred her. The two bees fell in love, roamed the vernal pool prairie and mated.
Days passed and soon Adrena had young on the way. She decided she would construct an underground chamber just like the one she came from. As she did so she began to remember her experience underground more vividly.
She dug a vertical shaft into the soil. From this central shaft she dug several horizontal tunnels. Each tunnel ended with a 1 by 2 cm oval chamber. She excreted a waxy substance and spread it over all the walls to protect it from water and fungi. Adrena pushed the excess soil to the ground’s surface in a pile so she would remember where she left it.
Now for provisions. What food could she give to her offspring that would last them all year long? She recalled the taste of pollen and nectar from her past. At that, she heard the distant voice she had forgotten about, except this time it seemed to be ringing in a chorus.
“Adrena! We have something sweet for you! Come visit!” the voices called.
Adrena simply had to satisfy her curiosity. She followed the voices over mima mounds covered in Filaree, through a carpet of Frying Pan Poppies that looked like yellow shining stars and towards the colorful vernal pool flower rings. As she came closer she realized the voices were coming from a ring of dainty White Meadowfoam flowers.
“Greetings!” cheered the Meadowfoam “We have sweet food for you”.
Along the petals, darker lines of color ran toward the center, which lured Adrena deeper into the flower. As she got closer to the center of spiraling yellow stamen she smelled a very familiar smell. Adrena gasped; the pollen she had eaten in her larval stage was from this very flower species! She instinctively knew she must gather some for her offspring.
She scraped up pollen and placed it in the pollen baskets on her hairy hind legs. The Meadowfoam flowers thanked her for pollinating them and Adrena made her way back to the nest. Once inside, she began to form a marble-sized ball of pollen just like the one she was raised on. She added nectar to moisten the dry yellow pollen. Once it was finished she laid a single egg on top. She did this over and over until each chamber contained one ball of pollen topped with one egg.
Now to close off the chamber for protection. She set soil in a spiral pattern at the chamber’s end to seal it shut. When she was finished she felt wonderful. Adrena knew the cycle of life would continue because of her maternal investment. Adrena spent 5 weeks building nests and gathering pollen.
Beneath the soil Adrena’s children morphed from larvae into pupa as the seasons changed. One spring the Meadowfoam they were raised on would bloom once again. It might be next spring when conditions would be right for Meadowfoam to grow. If not, her children could remain underground for up to four years until the Meadowfoam flowers wakened them with a feeling of purpose.