Pollinator Tour

I was vacillating about going on a pollinator tour yesterday at a local land conservancy. We had been to an opening/tour of a distillery on Friday and then Saturday we braved the heat again for the urban horticulture field day at the agricultural research station.  In the end I decided I’d probably regret it if I skipped it. I’m so glad I went!

Susan

While the tour started with a general introduction to pollinators and their importance, the main focus of the event was bumble bees. We learned about their life cycle and got some helpful tips on how to photograph and identify them. The presenter encouraged us to submit our sightings to Bumble Bee Watch, a citizen science project I started looking at earlier this summer but hadn’t gotten around to submitting anything to. If you’re in North America I suggest you check it out and consider getting involved.

Bumble Bee on Echinacea

The weather has been on the dry side lately so there hasn’t been as much nectar available for bees. The purple coneflowers were popular. That’s where we saw this Brown-belted Bumble Bee, or at least that’s what I think it is. I’m not too sure of my identification skills at this point but hope with time and seeing more bees it will become easier. Bumble bees can be tricky to identify because the queens, males and worker females can all look different within a species and there are variations even within a sex.

Bees Gathering Pollen

The coneflowers also attracted these solitary bees who were busy collecting pollen for their brood.

Yellow Bumble Bee

In all we saw five species of bumble bees in the three hours we were there. This one in the jar is a Yellow Bumble Bee. Our guide was catching bees for us to see up close, first with a net, but then just by walking up to them and placing the jar over them. They were all released unharmed when we were done looking at them.

Monarch Caterpillar

Along with the bees we saw a few Monarch Butterfly caterpillars like this one. It seemed to be lost exploring a nodding onion stem rather than its usual milkweed host plants.

Solitary Bee on Mustard

It was cool to see so many people turn out for an event like this. There were even a couple of young boys in attendance who were really into it, asking good questions and having a great time finding bees. We all came away with information and suggestions of resources to help us continue our studies of bumble bees. Now I need to get out and see more bees before it’s too late. The flowers I associate with autumn, goldenrod and asters are starting to bloom and before we know it the bees will have tucked themselves away for winter.

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4 thoughts on “Pollinator Tour

  1. Did you get to keep one of those ID charts she has? They are really useful for identifying bees!

    If you are on twitter and like bees, I would really suggest watching the #bumblebeewatching hashtag. Some awesome pics and IDs there!

    1. She wasn’t handing out the charts but told us they’re available at https://beespotter.org/ which is another bumblebee reporting project. There are several identification guides there and a load of other information. I don’t look at Twitter very often but I will check out that hashtag!

  2. You are so lucky! I’d love to go on something like that. Your yellow bee is so cute – we don’t have those over here. Our Carder bumble bees are so confusing to identify, I’d really need help from someone who knew. Amelia

    1. Having an expert point out the identifying features was definitely helpful. I’ve tried to take a few more pictures but haven’t gotten around to sorting out their identification yet. I think it will be easier next spring when it’s mainly queens flying. Right now it’s a little more confusing with workers, drones and new queens all buzzing around.

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