Blooms and Bombus in Benicia

There she was, a beautiful yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging Feb. 27 on African trailing daisies, Osteospermum fruticosum, in the Matthew Turner Shipyard Park, Benicia, Calif.

The bee buzzed cautiously amid the pink and white flowers, near anglers, kayakers, picnickers, bench occupiers, and walkers.

"Bumble bee!" I whispered, raising the camera. "Bombus vosnesenskii!"

Nobody seemed to notice. "Just a bee," they probably thought. "Just a bee."

The site is named for Matthew Turner (1825-1909), a sea captain, shipbuilder and designer who built ships at the site.

Wikipedia tells us: "He constructed 228 vessels, of which 154 were built in the Matthew Turner shipyard in Benicia. He built more sailing vessels than any other single shipbuilder in America, and can be considered 'the 'grandaddy' of big time wooden shipbuilding on the Pacific Coast...Turner also built some of the fastest racing yachts in the world, proven out during the famous races sponsored by the San Francisco Yacht Club, of which Turner was a charter member."

A historical marker at the Benicia site reads: "In 1882, Matthew Turner of San Francisco relocated his shipyard to Benicia. Turner, the most prodigious shipbuilder in North America, constructed 228 vessels, 169 of which were launched here. In 1913, the shipyard was purchased by James Robertson, who operated it until 1918. The yard's ways, and the whaler "Stamboul," used as a shipyard work platform, are visible at low tide."

The State Department of Parks and Recreation, in cooperation with the City of Benicia, designated the site as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 973 on June 18, 1987. 

Turner would have been proud of the "namesake" park. And maybe, just maybe, while he was building ships, he may have noticed a bumble bee...or two...or three....