Monday 28 May 2012: Red tailed bumblebee - Bombus lapidaries
The red tailed bee is not a rarity, I have been watching them since I arrived a month ago. I found plenty of photo opportunities, but because the big queen is jet black apart from the tail, it is very difficult to get the exposure right, as all the black areas are under exposed and detail is lost. I found, after many tries, that one stop over exposure is a good compromise, any more and you start to lose the orange tail detail.
The bee does not hang around either, you have to follow one and try to predict the next bloom, as she rarely feeds for more than a couple of seconds. The male (smaller) can be normally exposed, but again, speed is of the essence.
Neither shot was that good, so I decided to merge them together to give you the full story in one blip.
I first saw the bee late April, ferreting about the ground, looking for a nest site, possibly an abandoned mouse hole or similar. Photographing was so difficult under these shaded conditions that I didn't get one decent shot. Once the nest site was claimed, the bee was found feeding on blackberry blooms under much better lighting conditions. The males are much smaller and easily thought to be a different species, but the tell tail orange tip gives them away.
Today's Indonesian difference is the kitchen table. Once you get away from the city and out into the sticks, the life style becomes a lot simpler and basic. I was invited to Tessa's uncle's place up in the hills for the day. The car was parked up and we had to walk up the hill about a mile along what looked more like a goat trail.
A delightful house built entirely of bamboo, poles and banana leaves tightly woven, amazing construction, sturdy too. The first thing that struck me was the lack of furniture. Everything was done on the floor. The dinner table was a banana leaf woven mat which everyone sat around as a social occasion and helped themselves from the dozen or so dishes presented.
My hosts wanted to accommodate me by rigging up a table, but I obviously declined as I wanted to take part in the tradition, but it was a nice gesture. It was a struggle as my legs wouldn't go where I wanted them to. After the delicious meal, I attempted to stand, much to the amusement of the other guests. I admit that I did milk it a tad. Despite not being able to communicate with the spoken word, I was able to make them laugh many times.
No Asian holiday would be complete without at least visiting a Kampung (village), to get a good appreciation of how things are in a totally contrasting world. Better still, if you can swing an overnight stay. This is entirely possible, if you can befriend a local and express a desire to visit a Kampung and possibly an overnight stay, he/she might well be able to arrange such an event. Most definitely recommended.