Berberis sp.

The photographer behind today’s image is Jack Dykinga, who I assume must have done some work for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at one time (unless there are two exceptional photographers named Jack Dykinga). Artistic work commissioned by the US government has few restrictions on its reuse, and in this case, the photograph is licensed under the Creative Commons.

As noted on the above-linked page, this is a photograph of an Osmia ribifloris on a species of Berberis. The bee is commonly known as a blue orchard bee or, due to its success as a commercial pollinator of blueberry crops, the blueberry bee. In the wild, it is typically a pollinator of Californian manzanitas.

Wikipedia has an intriguing entry on Berberis (or barberry); the write-up for the genus includes details about the use of some species as spices or foods in Asia and South America. Somewhere around five hundred species of barberry are thought to exist, growing in temperate and subtropical regions of most continents except Australia (and, it goes without saying, Antarctica).

Berberis sp.

12 responses to “Berberis sp.”

  1. Mary Miller

    Nature’s colors are amazing but Jack’s capture is fantastic! What a treat to wake up to.

  2. Eric in SF

    Daniel – this is interesting, because historically *anything* created by the US Federal Government (but sadly, not state governments) wasn’t just creative commons licensed, it is 100% public domain.
    I found this site:
    but it’s inconclusive on licensing terms for images from the USDA Agricultural Research Service. I did send an inquiry to the email address on that page and will report back here if I hear anything.

  3. Eva

    More on bees, pollination and human folly:
    “Greenhouse” bees spread disease to wild bees
    by Will Dunham
    Disease spread to wild bees from commercially bred bees used for pollination in agriculture greenhouses may be playing a role in the mysterious decline in North American bee populations, researchers said on Tuesday.
    “Greenhouse” bees spread disease to wild bees

  4. Shanda Solomon

    Beautiful pic, beautiful flower, amazing bee. Makes me want to go out and sit in the garden!

  5. Michael F

    Hi Eric – whether a photo by a US Federal employee is in the public domain or not, depends on whether they took the photo during their official duties. If the photo was taken in their own time outside of contracted working hours, it can still be copyrighted. So photos on USDA websites are not necessarily public domain.

  6. onlyheaven

    Vibrant & vivid — absolutely gorgeous, Dan. Interesting notes from you and Eric on photo licensing & from Eva on the honeybee pop decline issue. Learn something new everyday! Decline of honeybee pop is a real problem and resulting consequences may become much more widespread than most people even realize right now. So glad someone here brought it up. Thanks again for the gorgeous photo. The yellow was like a beam of sunshine that woke up my sleepy mind this afternoon =D

  7. phillip

    …i must say…’this’ bee has personality…outstanding..!

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    busy as a bee are we not
    a lot of infomation and picures
    are on the net about this plant
    thank you daniel

  9. CWick

    how WONDERFUL! my son and I’ve just found a dead blue bee and were still trying to get potitive ID’s for it….this fellow ALMOST looks like it but I’m still not dead on positive?
    Such a gorgeous close-up of this fellow…spectacular colors!

  10. Eric in SF

    I did receive a reply from the USDA ARS, and with their permission, am quoting the relevant portion:

    On Aug 22, 2008, at 9:10 AM, ARS Photo Unit wrote:

    Eric Hunt,

    Thank you for contacting the ARS Photo Unit. Yes, the images located
    in our image gallery ( )
    are considered to be in the public domain. If you are interested in
    using Jack Dykinga’s image of a blue orchard bee you may do so.
    Unfortunately, our images often appear in photo galleries on other
    web sites.

    [snip paragraph not relevant]

    Nancy Vanatta
    ARS Photo Unit
    5601 Sunnyside Ave
    Beltsville, MD 20705

  11. Scott McGillivray

    oh to fly and bee free…woe is me…to walk and bee me….

  12. Alexander Jablanczy

    A good article and link.
    The issue of greenhouse bees passing on their parasites to wild bumblebees is exactly analogous to the farmed salmon wiping out wild salmon populations in the waters off BC coast.
    Same bio or eco logical principle.

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