Monday, May 9, 2022

In which I learn more about bumble bees…

 I love watching bumble bees in my garden – and around my yard. Especially in the spring, when the queens emerge from hibernation and begin seeking a nesting place. Bumble bees are generally so intent upon their own business that, unless you intrude, they ignore you. So you can follow them from dandelion to dandelion. Better yet, when they are busy working on a flower, you can sneak up close and watch (though they seem to sense whenever I’m about to snap a photo and buzz off).

I enjoy watching bumble bees so much that I took the Bumble Bee Short Course for Community Scientists through Ohio State University this spring. I grabbed a brand-new spiral notebook, sharpened a couple pencils, and showed up to virtual class every Friday afternoon for six weeks.

After watching bumble bees for so many years, you’d think I’d know a lot more than I do! But it was fun to review bumble bee biology, and learn how to identify the bumbles in the northeastern US. Now I’ve got the Bumble Bee Watch app on my phone, so maybe identifying them will be a bit easier… at least one can hope. We also learned about endangered bees and some conservation measures. 

Here's the cool thing: the sessions are recorded. Not only that, there’s a bucket-load of bumble bee resources and a list of scientific papers and books all on the website at the OSU Bumble Bee Short Course.

This summer you’ll find me counting bumble bees (and other pollinators) for the Great Sunflower Project, as usual. But I’ll also be taking photos to submit to Bumble Bee Watch and iNaturalist whenever I come across bumble bees that aren’t camera-shy.

Get to know the bumble bees living around you:

Follow a bumble bee around. 
  • What color of flowers does she visit? 
  • How long does she stay on one flower? 
  • How many flowers does she visit before she flies away home? 
Take photos or sketch the bumble bees that live in your neighborhood. If there is a museum or university close by, see if they have a collection of local bumble bees that you can look at.

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