Author Gary Taylor

What a battle… Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile “asoc” bee. Both very staunch little bees, I’ve seen rubricata (or “Ruby” as I call her) take on bees several times her size and will regularly chase Euro honeybees off the flower she’s chosen to feed on.

On one occasion the honey bee she chased off suddenly turned around mid flight and came back hovering low over the Eucalyptus flowers toward Ruby, trying to intimidate her… “and what are YOU gonna do Pipsqueak…?”. 😃 Well Ruby just stormed forwards and literally went face to face with it, pushing hers against the Euro’s like a Maori greeting and quietly whispered “I’m gonna kick your ass…” 😆 Now I don’t know if it’s her colour that makes Euros think twice about having a go at her or if it’s her attitude, or maybe just the atmosphere at the time…

By now all the other native bees were gathering around, cheering her on, singing “Come on Aussie come on, come on…” (it’s a little known fact, well theory, that native bees are actually born in Summer because they’re big cricket fans. Not that they’re much into sport, they just love seeing Aussies beat the Poms 😉😆) anyway, the Euro made a hasty retreat 😅

As for the “asoc” bees, they’re the outlaw cowboys of the bee world… Thievin’, lazy, murderous varmints (some will just break into an existing nest even tho’ there’s plenty of empty rooms, drag out the pupae, dump them and move in) and they love a brawl. 😃

I can always tell when they’ve turned up at my BeeTown ‘cos the Honey eaters start whistling the tune from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” 😆 Seriously, it’s like watching an old Western movie… you know, some cowboy pushes another cowboy in an old saloon and he accidentally bumps someone else who then spills his drink on another cowboy and suddenly it’s an all in all out punch up… 😂 I’ve seen it happen, a full on cowbee brawl, I’ve seen bees get chucked out of windows, fights that have started up on the top floor of the “saloon” with two cowbees punchin’ on that then fell, landing on the roof below, still punching on before tumbling off that, grappling each other before crashing to the ground… still punching on… 😄

I was gonna go through my kids’ old farm set toy box to see if I could find a little trough and some horses to tie up out the front of the saloon for a laugh but there’s no point… Cowbees will just untie ’em and ride away… 😅

So, 1st pic, Ruby has just moved out and found a cosy little old borer hole not far from home (about 15 cm 🙂 they seem to like to stay close to where they grew up), when suddenly a cowbee turned up (for the sake of the story I’ll call her Meg) and told her “that’s my room…”. It wasn’t aggressive, she was just stating a fact… you can see she’s laden with pollen, she’d found the empty apartment, chosen to call it home, went out for some shopping and in that time Ruby had moved in…

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

2nd pic, still fairly friendly (you gotta watch the antennae, when it comes reading bee body language they are like the ears, eyes and tail of a canine all put together), here, on both bees they are gently folded forward and down, they’re politely discussing the “Rights of Ownership”… Albeit with Meg trying to get a bit “in her face” and Rubes, as always, not backing down…

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

3rd pic the conversation starts getting a bit heated when Ruby quotes from “The Universal Rights of Ownership”… 1st law, Section Bee, “Any vacant apartment that does not contain any recent sign of activity shall be deemed vacant…”. Meg said “Then I’ll just have to drag you out…!” Ruby took a lunge at her and said “You can try…!”. Meg dodged the first jaw snapping lunge then caught Rubes on the second in a lightning fast headlock

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

and (4th pic, crap focus and heavily cropped ‘cos it happened so fast they were almost out of shot by the time the flash went off)) marched her out like a Redfern bouncer, threw her into the gutter and went back to HER hole… 😆 Now, with most bees it would’ve ended there, but nah, this is Rubes, you’re seriously pickin’ on the wrong chick (another little known fact, Assassin, Nikita, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, all based on Ruby…).

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

5th pic, she just dusted herself off and came straight back for a rematch… but Meg wouldn’t come out… And I got a lot of photos of Ruby just sitting back, waiting patiently, so patiently… 20 minutes later, still holding the camera up, arms aching, hands shaking, suddenly Meg came out and at the speed of lightning Ruby launched on her like a mountain lion on a horse… never seen anything like it in the bee world, it was a full bodied almost carnivorous attack, they rolled and tumbled down the stump and were still fighting when I lost sight of them and the camera finally went “click” 😆 Yep, all that waiting until I ached and then missed the shot of a lifetime 😅😂🤣

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

Haha, welcome to world of macro photography 😆 But!!! It didn’t end there, again Meg was first back to the nest and again Ruby picked herself up, dusted herself off and also came back… but this time it was personal… I could tell by the Honey eaters… 🤣

Anyway, I reckon Rubes must’ve landed a couple of good ones on the cowbee ‘cos it wasn’t too keen on coming out again… And when I left, an hour after the battle began (hadn’t eaten all day and really had to get some washing on 😄) Rubes was still perched by the hole, patiently waiting for yet another crack at her… 🙂

the outlaw cowboys - Meroglossa rubricata versus Megachile "asoc" bee © Gary Taylor

Photographs © Gary Taylor