Today’s Daily “Bumble!”


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(Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee or Bombus vosnesenskii)

Image

(Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee or Bombus vosnesenskii)

My walk yesterday left me pondering some things about the Bumble Bee.  As I took a slow hike up the Young Hill Trail at San Juan Island National Historical Park, I noticed this Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee or Bombus vosnesenskii on the ground.  She was, without a doubt, busy excavating the substrate beneath last fall’s cast off Maple and Madrona leaves.  I watched her for a few minutes as she would use her forelegs to dig away the soil and then back her abdomen into the small cavity for a moment before half-hovering, half-walking to another spot and beginning the process again.

What was perplexing to me about this behavior is that while Bumble Bees do lay their eggs in the soil, typically they use something like an old mouse hole or small animal burrow that is already there.  I checked carefully after she had crawled out of one of the small crevices and looked for any evidence of an egg, but didn’t see anything.   It didn’t make sense that she would lay one egg here and another egg somewhere else, so I’m not sure at all what this Bumble Bee was doing, but I did see some other Bumble Bees along the trail that appeared to be carrying on the same behavior.  Definitely sparked my curiosity and I am going to put it on my list of things to find out more about.

As I walked back down the hill, I did some thinking about something else.  What happens to the Bumble Bees and other pollinators that nest in the soil when we treat our yards and farms with chemicals?  Undoubtedly this has been one aspect contributing to the decline of native pollinators and something important to think about.  Greenhouse growers rely heavily on Bumble Bees for pollinating plants such as tomatoes and there is an active agricultural trade in Bumble Bees for this purpose.  Many things can cause additive effects that result in diminshed populations of these pollinators.  They are facing not only loss of habitat, but lack of genetic diversity with commercial breeding and trade. Of course, the harsh chemicals and fertilizers sprayed onto soils on our lawns, gardens, sports fields, farms, and golf greens compound their struggle to survive.

Something to think about?  I Bee-lieve so!

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(Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee or Bombus vosnesenskii)

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(Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee or Bombus vosnesenskii)

 

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About "BUGGING" YOU FROM FRIDAY HARBOR!

I love beetles and keep bees! In my free time, I enjoy photography (mostly bugs) and documenting insect species found on San Juan Island. I have limited availability for local, onsite beekeeping consultation and hive inspection, honey bee removal/swarm collection as well as phone/skype consultation. Contact me at cyndibrast@me.com Member Washington State Beekeepers Association
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One Response to Today’s Daily “Bumble!”

  1. Sasha von Dassow says:

    Hey, Cindy-
    It was nice to meet you yesterday at the farmer’s market. I look forward to beekeeping in an organic habitat with other like minded folk like you. I like your posts, they’re good. I’d like to stay in touch, my email is svondassow@verizon.net, my phone is 941-780-0096.

    Thanks-
    Sasha

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