The Summer of Bumble Bees
I had planned to spend the summer stalking bumble bees all over Illinois to take pictures and record on Beespotter at UIUC . That didn't happen. But, our wildlife habitat gardening practices at home are paying off with a bonanza of bees this year,especially bumble bees.
and Bombus impatiens .
Although sitting on a coneflower this bee looks as though it may have been in the Rose of Sharon blooms. Every morning several kinds of bees head for the days newly opening Rose of Sharon blooms then come out looking like they are having trouble flying with all that weight. Some bees land on firm coneflowers or heleopsis and groom themselves before continuing flight.
Click on the pictures to enlarge for a good look at the bees covered in gold flecks. In sunlight the pollen shines like glitter.
A bombus impatiens samples the liatris. We have been seeing these bumbles since very early spring. Cold mornings and easy rain do little to discourage the gathering of pollen and nectar by this bee. It is a favorite of those seeking to find a reliable pollinator.
Bumble bees do well in gardens with a bit of wild space for nests and a garden with many different kinds of flowers spreading blooms over a long season.
I was surprised to see so many bumbles bees with similar markings vary greatly in size. It seems that first born bumble bees fed only by the queen are smaller than later larvae fed by ever increasing numbers of worker bees. More food , bigger bees until maximum size for that bee is reached.
Washington Post Newsletter concerning the low numbers of some bumble bees in many areas.