Posts Tagged: Bombus vosnesenskii
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, is back.
We spotted some overwintering queen bumble bees gathering nectar on a hebe bush last Sunday at the Berkeley marina.
Distinguished by their yellow faces, yellow head pile, black wings, and a bold yellow stripe on their lower abdomen, they bumbled around the hebe as if they were newbie pilots.
The warm weather invited them out of their underground nests. RSVP accepted. The hebe proved to be a good host, enticing them with the sweet scent of nectar. Soon the queens will be starting rearing a colony, and the worker bees will emerge.
Hebe (genus Hebe), a native of New Zealand, grow wells along the coast. Gardeners who tend the marinas around the San Francisco Bay seem to favor it.
So do the bumble bees.
Queen bumble bee nectaring a hebe at the Berkeley marina. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Queen bumble bee is aglow in the afternoon sun. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Distinguishing yellow stripe on the lower abdomen is barely visible. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native on native.
That's when you get when you see a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) on a penstemon, also known as "beard's tongue."
Both the bee and the flower are native to North America.
Native Americans reportedly used the penstemon, formerly classified in the Scrophulariaceae family and now considered a member of the Plantaginaceae family, to relieve toothaches.
Whether it relieves toothaches or not, the penstemon, with its two-lipped tubular flowers, is quite attractive to bumble bees!
Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) crawls inside a penstemon "Evelyn." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Just the feet of the yellow-faced bumble bee show. At right, another yellow-faced bumble bee heads off to a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yellow-faced bumble bee emerging from penstemon blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Training for the Olympics?
If you step into your garden in the early morning, you might see a male bumble bee sleeping on one of your plants. The females return to their nests at night, but the males don't. They stage slumber parties, aka sleepovers, on your plants.
If they look bedraggled, that's because they are. It's the beginning of a bad hair day.
Such was the case when we encountered this male yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) on the lavender.
As the sun began rising, Mr. Bombus vosnesenskii, too, struggled to rise. Had he been partying all night? Sipping too much nectar, perhaps? Rolling in the pollen?
He crawled along the lavender plants , backtracked, and then appeared to be using a stem as a chin-up bar.
Nothing like a little morning exercise...
Male yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, appears to be doing a chin up. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's sad to see and say, but like honey bees, the bumble bee population is declining, and that decline is alarming. Public awareness can help turn this around.
That's why we're glad to see that the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, based in Portland, Ore., has just published a free downloadable booklet titled Conserving Bumble Bees: Guidelines for Creating and Managing Habitat for America’s Declining Pollinators.
The booklet outlines "the important role bumble bees play in both agricultural and wild plant pollination, details the threats they face, and provides information on how land managers can create, restore, and enhance high quality habitat," the authors said. "Importantly, these guidelines describe how land managers can adapt current practices to be more in sync with the needs and lifec ycle of bumble bees."
The booklet also includes bumble bee identification guides to both common and imperiled species in each region and lists important bumble bee plants.
One of the many plants they go for is lavender. In our yard we see as many as 10 yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) foraging at one time. The bumble bees share the lavender with honey bees, syrphid flies, drone flies, blue and green bottle flies, carpenter bees, ladybugs, spotted cucumber beetles, butterflies, katydids, grasshoppers and a few predators, including crab spiders and jumping spiders.
Yellow-faced bumble bee nectaring lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you've ever been to Angel Island or Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, you may have seen them.
And sometimes if you're fishing in the Bay, a bumble bee may land on your boat.
That was the case Monday, May 28 when the sportsfishing charter boat, The Morning Star, left its berth at Loch Lomond Marina, San Rafael, and headed out to the Bay to search for what skipper Gordon Hough calls "meals on reels."
The Morning Star encountered the bumble bee about two miles north of Angel Island, near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, later identified it from the photo below as a female Bombus vosnesenskii.
Nobody was catching any halibut or stripers at the time, so some of the anglers caught an image of the yellow-faced bumble bee.
"I thought it was remarkable to see a bee flying around in the middle of nowhere," said Hough.
"She was probaby just too lazy to fly the distance and decided to hitch a ride," quipped Thorp. "Wonder if she does a daily commute to find a better patch of flowers."
Thorp says that bumble bees are "larger, stronger fliers than honey bees and can potentially fly for several miles."
"They have occasionally been found on boats off shore, but like honey bees, they tend not to forage across wide strips of water," Thorp says.
UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, who does fly research on Alcatraz, has seen bumble bees on Alcatraz, too. No honey bees, but bumble bees.
As for Hough, he says he has no plans to offer bumble bee charters.
Yellow-faced bumble bee lands on The Morning Star. (Photo taken with an IPhone)
The characteristic yellow band on the abdomen of Bombus vosnesenskii. The bee landed on the boat and after a 10-minute rest, took off.