Straight across the Bass!

Well, I managed almost two full days of photographing bees at the Victorian Museum after meeting up with bee expert and senior curator, Ken Walker. While I wasn’t in the museum, I got to catch up with a bunch of friends local to Melbourne, Byron, and QLD (Seeing as everyone seems to migrate to Melbourne)! So Melbourne was a good time, I’ll need to spend a couple more evenings there on my return as who knows when I’ll see them next (I intend to make it sooner rather than later this time).

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A gold-covered (yes literally) Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) lineatum from the Victorian museum. Bees are covered in gold in order to take Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images, otherwise the electrons go through the cuticle and they get photos of their innards! Bee is about 6.5mm long and lookin’ faaaaabulous!

After all of these meets and photos, I finally had to go and catch the ferry across to Tassy. An hour and a half of sleep was all I needed (all I got) to drive to the ferry terminal and await boarding. The boarding process took over an hour, I managed to stay awake for the whole time, but not the whole time on the ferry!

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Waiting in line, waiting in line…

Well, as it turns out you aren’t allowed any fruit or veg on the ferry (no worries), but you also aren’t allowed any flammables including fuel in a jerry can (into the car, plus some of another guy’s fuel) and absolute ethanol… ooops!

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Yes, this is how bright it was by the time I got onto the actual ferry!
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Auf Wiedersehen, Victoria!
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Hello Tasmania! That was quick wasn’t it? …I wouldn’t know I was probably asleep…
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Thanks Spirit of Tasmania I (in my booking confirmation e-mail they thanked me for choosing the spirit of Tasmania… as if I had another choice! 😛 )
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Another sporting field to sleep at, this one was full because it was so close to Devonport, where the Ferry comes in!

Obviously, I needed to start my hunt for bees ASAP, as this is the only reasonable thing to do when encountering a new place. So I drove around with a vague destination in mind – Gowrie Park, near Sheffield, where my roommate and some of her lab were camped. Unfortunately for them, they are plant people and were forced to work with boring leaves and branches…

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An introduced European wasp eating an introduced European honeybee, why can’t Europeaners seem to get along with each other?
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Another introduced pest – Bombus terrestris a bumblebee, again from Europe, maybe Australia has a problem with Europeaners coming in and setting up shop

Needles to say I did find some natives as well in amongst all of the introduced species. But most of those were found on the weedy little flowers covering the ground next to this garden plant!

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Yep, on these boring little yellow buggers! The red flowers only seemed to have European honeybees visiting them.
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Is that you Cradle Mountian?
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Oh yes!
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Got a bag of plums, purple on the outside, green on the inside! Why I share this is because the moneybox was open inside, with all [I assume] money intact! Hurrah!
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Now this looks like more natural habitat than earlier right?
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And these look like native flowers!
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And lots more where they came from! So yes I found some more bees!

Chrissy and her lab were busy ahhh, working up the Cradle Mountain walk, so I waited in the car park taking photos of bees and disturbing other motorists (I assume, I just don’t look outside). Anyway, the lab head, Leander came speeding back to the car on foot and took off in a bit of a hurry.. I guessed that I wouldn’t be seeing them in a hurry then! …They had missed the last shuttle bus back, or so they thought. Anyway, I decide to make my way to where they would be camping, in my slow and meandering stop here and there way!

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In Tasmania, macropods are encouraged to try and powerlift cars it seems. But only during the hours of dusk to dawn… And only cars going less than 65km/h. You know that last one actually seems reasonable.
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More mountainous roads! Heck yes!
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Hydro power! – Wilmot Power Station
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Lake Cethana, not to be confused with lake Cthulu. Lake Cthulu, while equally scenic is infinitely more horrific.
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Forth River (I don’t know what happened to the previous three… Maybe something to do with lake Cthulu)
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It’s also safe to say that these trees are tall!
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So the European wasps have learned to come to cars to eat the dead insects off the front bumper when they stop! Not pictured are the other dozen or so checking out my car…
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What a lookout! (HDR)… Yes I was looking at the wasps over this. I might have a problem.
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Then I found an even better spot to lookout from
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Oh yes, Tassy!

Now that was a bit of a picture tangent! I did eventually meet up with Chrissy and her lab in their cabin, where I was to stay the next two nights! Of course they beat me there besides my sizeable head start! After much good-natured chat and braiding of hair (fortunately not mine), we all got to bed to go our separate ways the next day!

I don’t have a great deal to share from the next day’s bee hunting, but I did manage to find four more species in a plant out the front of a lovely couple’s house, who came out and had a chat to me and were surprised to see something other than the bumblebee (“Those bloody bastards” – a bit of paraphrasing there but you get the idea) and the European honeybee (“Bush bee”). I did roam out almost to Launceston before coming back, as the more East I went, the less natural bush and flowers there seemed to be!

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Tasmanian place names… I wonder what the second one is like
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Some tall moss near the cabin that afternoon
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We had a gold-covered bee earlier, now we just have a golden bee! It looks black to the naked eye… but green or gold depending on the incident light angle a little closer up!

I decided to bugger off to the North-Western corner of Tassy the next day to see what I could find! I did see plenty of flowers, including various coloured Eucalypts (great for native bees)! But, I was thwarted by the poor weather, so I had a wet drive out, a wet stay, and a wet drive back the next day! Just as I had decided to camp near Launceston though, the clouds broke and the sun poked out from the clouds, quickly drying the roads and allowing me to make my way closer to Hobart! And so now, I am camped in Kempton. Tomorrow I might find Chrissy and her lab, and hopefully some bees!

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Sure beats my parent’s bikes! Although probably not as functional…
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Too wet outside? No worries, wraps’ll sort me!
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Lovely view from the car, but there is just a bit too much water in the way!

Kilometres travelled: 20 500

Bees: 157

James

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