Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Bumble Bee Population is Causing Quite a Buzz!

Bumble Bees are dancin' in my flowers!

I can't remember the last time I saw a Bumble Bee in my gardens. 
Until this year. 

Every day it seems that I see several 
out and about gathering nectar from my blooms. 

Take a look at that tongue!

This is such a delight that I decided to do a little research.
Just what exactly is going on here?
Why suddenly a population boom? 

I'd like to say that people have finally awakened to the idea 
that broad spectrum pesticides are poisonous 
to these beautiful and beneficial creatures.

While I can hope that is true to some degree, 
here is what I have discovered:

Utah had a very mild Winter  
(so little snow that some of our trees and shrubs didn't survive).  
Our Spring was moisture-challenged 
(as is our Summer...rain oh rain where art thou?) 
This has actually meant quite a boost for the Bumble Bee. Their population is noticeably up especially in Northern Utah. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Jamie Strange says a three-year pattern of one species showed a population of just 129 bees in the entire western United States. But now dozens have been spotted
this Spring in Logan alone.

Now that's something to buzz about.

So much so that Utah State University in Logan, Utah 
held their first ever  

 Scientists and anyone else interested gathered to discuss conservation techniques, 
threats to these little creatures, 
and how to coax bumblebees 
into our backyard gardens.

This prompted me to want to learn more about our new little residents 
so I continued my research. 

Did you know that...

♥ Bumble Bees are quite large (3/4 inch long) and are shades of black and yellow but may also have white or orange markings as well. All Bumble Bees are furry. There are 50 Species found in North America, 20 of them are native to Utah.  

♥ Bumble Bees form colonies like the honey bee, but their colonies are small.  Bumble Bee colonies only survive during the warm season. New queens hibernate alone to begin another colony the following Spring.

♥ Bumble bees are important pollinators of many plants. Both queens and workers collect pollen and transport it back to the colony in pollen baskets on their hind legs.

♥ Bumble Bees only produce enough honey to feed themselves for a few days.



How's the Bumble Bee population in your gardens?

Short of wishing you a mild Winter, 
there are some things you can do.

Include a wealth of flowers in your landscape.
Be sure to include plants that bloom in the Fall.
Never use broad spectrum pesticides.

Here's a great website that will answer all your questions 
about Bumbles Bees.



  1. I love seeing bumble bees in the garden, but like the honey bee, many of their species are threatened, and in some cases, by the same diseases causing honey bee decline.  The other important thing for gardeners to note is that many bumble species nest below ground.  Those nests can be easily destroyed by rototillers, or excessive watering practices.  I expect some of your choices of flowers in your garden are encouraging them to visit more too.  Bumble bees can forage from some flowers that honey bees can't reach the nectar in.  Here they love our native sages, and both bee types at the moment are mobbing the lavender!  

  2. We were in drought here for over 10 years and when it broke 2 years ago the butterflies arrived en masse.  I find it fascinating how much climate impacts on insect numbers, and a little scary considering how much climate change is predicted. 

  3. Wonderfully educational post! I had always wondered why I had only a few bumblebees but lots of other kinds of bees.

  4. Carolyn, I love the bumblebees  too, but when our old little house has been pulled down
    the nest of bumblebees was damaged , and they did not fly in our garden.
    Now bumblebees often collect nectar from my flowers.NadezdaSaint Petersburg, zone 5a

  5. Your bee photos are very nice! I really like bumble bees. I think one way to tell the health of a garden is by the numbers of bees and other pollinators. During the extreme heat and drought we had in June, bees were regular visitors to our bird baths.

  6. I'm so fortunate to be located in a spot where the surrounding bushland has plenty of flowers that attract bees.  I see our native Blue-Banded Bees all the time.  It's wonderful to see the Bumble Bees returning in large numbers to your corner of the world.  Obviously the conditions were just right.  Your photos were just terrific.  

  7. Lots of bees in my gardens now too. But your bees are a darker golden color than mine!  Love all the wonderful shots you were able to get.  

  8. Donna@Gardens Eye ViewJanuary 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    The pollinators are good here with all the blooms especially the if we could get a break from the record setting heat and get some rain.....gorgeous pics!

  9. Lots of great bee pictures. I had lots here also until the drought and extreme heat hit. Now there aren't as many although I do have a couple hornets trying to make me crazy right now. For a while I had the wasps which appear mostly gone.

  10.  Our garden seems to lend itself to bumble bees. We have loads, especially in spring when the fruit trees are blossoming. Standing under the cherry plum on a spring evening, it sounds almost as if you're standing next to a jet engine...

    I love them to bits, really. They create such a soothing soundscape.

  11. Hi — very nice metaphors! I teach holistic practitioners how
    to build their businesses, and I use the idea of the “personal compost pile”
    quite a lot in reference to life experiences many people would throw away or
    ignore. When you allow your whole life to be part of who you are now, you
    obtain quite a wonderful yield from every day! So, like Jillian, I’ll probably
    borrow the phrase, too because it works on so many levels.Jaipur Flowers


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