The Bumblebee Watch Garden Stare

I have a thing for bumblebees. They’re the Panda Bears of the insect world, and they give me a reason to stare at my flowers.

You know the “Stare”? It’s that trance-like state gardeners fall into whenever we wander among the flower beds. It’s not a restful state, no chess player ever used more brainpower to strategize a next move than a gardener. We may look serene but our minds churn constantly with lists of things to do and change in the garden. So Bumblebees are a welcome distraction. I find them endlessly interesting and as a bonus I get to look – really look – at my plants while I watch them.

Another part of the fun of Bumblebee-watching is trying to figure out what kind they are. That’s not particularly easy, and neither is taking a picture of them. They never stop moving and the workers all seem to look alike. But sometimes I get a shot that’s focused enough to submit to BumbleBeeWatch.org.

It’s kind of fun to do. You login, upload your picture, click on some identification hints and then take a stab at identifying them. Then you sit back and wait for the experts to check your conclusion and tell you if you were right. Or more likely wrong. But who cares – it’s fun anyway.

Try it!
http://bumblebeewatch.org

Bumblebee Watch is a collaborative effort by:

  • Wildlife Preservation Canada
  • University of Ottawa
  • BeeSpotter
  • Montreal Insectarium
  • Natural History Museum, London
  • Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

 

How to bee nice to Bumbles

DSCN3955I just received a newsletter from BumbleBeeWatch.org, and it has some of the most interesting information on Bumblebees that I’ve read in a while. Since I don’t see a blog on their website, I thought I’d share a bit of it here.

Most bumble bee colonies are well advanced and have a complete worker caste, so they have switched to producing the colony’s reproductive members. Because creating queens takes more resources from the colony than producing workers or males, the colony can only accomplish this once it has a worker caste large enough to provision the nest appropriately. Since the number of new queens (and not the total number of bees in a nest) is the measure of reproductive success, this is a critical time of year for all bumble bees. Ensuring they have enough food to eat between now and the end of the season will determine the strength of next year’s population.

So one of the best ways to help bumblebees (which are declining at a truly alarming rate – never mind honeybees!) is to have lots of pollinator flowers in the garden that bloom into the fall.

I’m not affiliated with the organization, just a big fan. If you love bumblebees, You should sign up!