The yellow-faced bumble bees are back!
And amid the throes of winter and the promise of spring.
On a trip Feb. 27 to Bodega Bay, we spotted two yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) about two miles apart.
They were both foraging on "The Pride of Madeira" (Echium candicans) on a sunny, but wind-whipped day in this Sonoma County coastal town.
The camera lens, the strong wind and the erratic flight of the bumble bees didn't allow us to get close, but the purple spiked flowers made a delightful sight.
See more images of this bumble bee, found throughout western North America, on Bug Guide.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is not only a haven for honey bees; it's a haven for bumble bees and other native pollinators.
A yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) buzzed around in the Bee Bliss salvia today, sharing the blossoms with honey bees.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It's an educational and research garden that provides year-around food for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators.
On any given day, you'll see honey bees, sweat bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees and butterflies. As the weather warms, along will come crab spiders and praying mantids. Another highlight is all the art work created by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by entomologist-artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick and the six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, by Billick.
The garden is open from dawn to dusk. Folks can stroll the gardens on self-guided tours (no admission) and check out the labeled plants. Picnic tables offer places to have lunch--while the native pollinators have theirs.
So you want to attract native pollinators to your garden.
It offers a wealth of information, from identifying common bees of North America to helping you decide the best nectar-and-pollen plants for your garden.
The non-profit Xerces Society earlier announced that its Bumble Bee Garden Kit is available. The kit tells you how to attract bumble bees to your garden.
First the garden kit, then the book.
Bring on the pollinators!
"A" is for anemone, "B" is for bumble bee and "C" is for coneflower.
A visit to the Oregon state capitol grounds in Salem last Tuesday found scores of yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) working the anemones and purple coneflowers.
While some bumble bee species are endangered or instinct, not the yellow-faced bumble bees. Let's hope they never are.
The anemone, a member of the buttercup family, is Greek for "daughter of the wind." The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a member of the aster family; Echinos is Greek for "hedgehog."
A look at the spiky flowers will tell you why.
The yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) may be one of the most underappreciated pollinators.
You see it buzzing around lavender, lupine, California poppies, mustard and other plants.
But a Xerces Society study of organic farms in Yolo County found that it was one of the most important of the native bees visiting the Sungold cherry tomatoes.
The study, titled “Native Bee Pollination of Cherry Tomatoes,” was based on research by Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley, Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp of UC Davis and Sarah Greenleaf, California State University, Sacramento, all members of Xerces.
“Recent studies demonstrate that tomatoes pollinated by native bees produce larger and more numerous fruits,” the authors wrote. “Honey bees do not pollinate tomatoes because they cannot get the pollen and the flowers do not produce nectar. With no reward, honey bees will not visit the flower. Many native bees, however, know the trick to extracting tomato pollen and are, therefore, valuable pollinators.
"Although the tomato plant is self-fertile, flowers must be vibrated by wind or bees in order to release pollen for fertilization. To achieve the most effective pollination, the flower must be vibrated at a specific frequency to release the pollen. Honey bees are unable to vibrate the tomato flower in this way, but bumble bees and other native species can.
The Xerces Society offers a great resource on how to attract bumble bees: see Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms.
In some respects, the yellow-faced bumble bee resembles a cuddly teddy bear. It's big and bumbly, as a bumble bee should be.
From behind, however, its heavy load of pollen looks for all the world like saddlebags on a trail horse.