- Author: 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.