The Wonder of Bumblebees

Every time I moan and groan about dandelions, roaring trucks and rumbling motorcycles would someone please remind me about bumble bees, red wing blackbirds and muskrats. Our cottage sits between our town’s major road and a river. The road gives us the trucks, motorcycles, commuters and day trippers. The river the gives us the wonder of the muskrats and blackbirds.

This morning we stopped to look at a bumble bee that was exploring my patch of dandelion-free yard.* It flew into a hole left by a dandelion and then came out. “Maybe they have nests under the ground,” said my husband. Just then the bee flew out and moved on to the next excavation and again flew out. Three times it did this before heading across the driveway. Bumblebees nest in the ground?

Yes, they do. Thanks to the wonder of the internet (and Wikipedia) I learned more about the bumblebee in five minutes than I had ever known. For example, “In the early spring, the queen comes out of diapause (a state of dormancy different from hibernation) and finds a suitable place to create her colony. Then she builds wax cells in which to lay her eggs which were fertilized the previous year. “ Bumblebees build their nests in or on the ground and do not produce the neat hexagonal cells of the honeybee.

That’s why I will now be very careful about disturbing the straw that I’ll use to cover my small potato patch. Do not want to make a bunch of bumblebees feel threatened.

It is so easy going through life nodding at one or another of God’s creatures without thinking about them. And then one morning you take the time to look and wonder. What makes a bumblebee different from a honeybee, for example?

There are joys in retirement. One of them is the time to stop to watch a bumblebee explore a hole in the ground and then to spend part of your morning benefiting from the work of scientists for whom the world of the bumblebee is their world.

*Used no Roundup or other herbicide. My trusty asparagus style weeder and time. I know they will come back. Keeping this one small patch dandelion-free is something like a meditative experience. I know my lawn.


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