Early spring 2011 I walked right past the nesting grounds of what I now believe could be cellophane bees or colletes inaequalis. They were flying very rapidly around some loose sandy soil on a steep forest slope, so without taking a good look I just assumed they were flies.

It was only when I looked at the blooms of the freeman maple standing at the top of the slope that I realized what was happening.

freeman maple and native beePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

As the first trees had started to bloom the entire hill side had suddenly sprung to life and I felt lucky that this marvel had not completely slipped past my attention.

These bees are also known as mining bees. They are solitary bees which live in individual ground burrows, but many of these bees will set up home right along side each other.

colletes nest areaPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

When I looked closer at that sandy slope I was able to watch them dig out their homes:

and mate:

I left with a strong reminder to slow down and pay closer attention to the marvellous things happening in front of me.