This week I’m torn between wanting to write about slugs or bees. I had been planning to write about slugs. These seemingly useless creatures that slowly move around the garden, eating hostas, daffodils and other tender perennials. I often feel in competition with them for my delicious Tom Thumb lettuces. But yesterday, I had the fun to witness Jerry the Bee Guy taking away a colony of bumblebees from a neighbor’s attic. They turned out to be the Black-rumped Bumble Bee (Bombus melanopygus). These bees look pretty typically bumble-beeish, but have an orange belt around their middle and their rump is black. I found some great photos at the Bees, Birds and Butterflies blog. (You can click on the link I provided for the photos I liked or go to Bees, Birds, and Butterflies homepage at olypollinators.blogspot.com.) This blog also links to Washington’s xerxes society. More than once, one of these Black-rumps have settled into my vegetable garden while I’ve been weeding or planting. It would land on the ground near me and just sit there while I worked around it. I’ve often wondered why it landed near me and settled for seemingly hours. I had the occasion to ask a beekeeper last year and she said it probably was just resting. She mentioned Bumbles often lose their way or need a rest and they’ll find the nearest hospitable spot & hang out for awhile. It was fun to notice the Bumble just sitting there, breathing – completely unbothered by my activity. In fact, while working on my raspberry patch canes this weekend, I was surrounded by three types of bees. We all worked on our own tasks – bees pollinating and me trying to tie the canes up (yes, I am behind schedule this year!). I had Bombus mixtus, Bombus sitkensis, and I think Bombus vandykei (probably Bombus vosnesenskii) all working alongside me. Turns out Bumbles really like pollinating raspberries – I say, come on out! We love that fruit too!
Here’s the complete Xerxes Field Guide to Western Bees. Have some fun learning more about bees.
What pollinators are working near you?