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Bumblebees, The Work Horse of Your Gardens
September 03, 2019

Into September.

My heart sinks a bit.

Summer is waning, daylight continues to shrink.

Powdery mildew is full blown on many plants.

Still, there is much too look forward to.

The first of any month is a good time to clean all bird feeders and water sources.

Cooler days allow for windows to be open and to listen to all of God's creation.

September is a time to pump up your Sugar Water in Hummingbird Feeders.

(A single Prairie Dock Flower amongst the buds.)

September is the time when I go from a 4-1 ratio on water and sugar, to a 3 to 1 ratio.

You will do your hummers a favor, as they fatten up for the arduous journey south.

Many flowers have a similar or stronger ratio than 3-1.

What is it with contractors and builders?

Work a few days, gone a few days.

No work or action all of last week.

We hope to hear something this week.

Only a day or two and things should be finished.

I know ....... they work as many gigs as possible at the same time.

I grew up in the 1960's and early 1970's.

Things were different back then (for most people).

We used insecticides quite freely.

See a caterpillar, kill it.

Any insect, good or bad, 'exterminate at all cost'.

A beehive buried in the sand or near a utility pole (bumblebees).

Do what you can to eliminate the scourge.

That mind set was with me into my 30's (Shameful to say).

Only honeybees were good bees.

As time went on, I opened my mind, opened a few books, read a few articles, and discovered the internet.

We need all of our pollinator friends.

Yes, I write on this topic from time to time.

For me, the 'Work Horse' of any garden is the 'Humble Bumble.


They can't fly.

Scientists once proved bumblebees can't fly, is regularly cited in magazine and newspaper stories and lists of interesting facts.

Quite often in a manner 'aimed at putting down those know-it-all scientists who are so smart, yet can't manage to understand something that's apparent to everyone else.'

It's also referenced in popular culture to invoke the concept that people shouldn't allow themselves to be limited by a dogged adherence to old ideas or by the perceptions of others.

Short and stubby, the bumblebee doesn't look very flight-worthy.

Indeed, in the 1930's, French entomologist August Magnan even noted that the insect's flight is actually impossible, a notion that has stuck in popular consciousness since then.

To keep things simple, he assumed a rigid, smooth wing, estimated the bee's weight and wing area, and calculated the lift generated by the wing.

Not surprisingly, there was insufficient lift.

The aerodynamicist's initial failure was sufficient evidence of the superiority of nature to mere engineering.

There are other stories floating around as well.

Research and more research shows the Bumblebee gets things accomplished by brute strength.

Vibration and flexing muscles allow the Humble Bumble to do things other species of bees cannot.

Also the hefty bee flaps its wings 200 times a second more in a back and forth motion.

The Humble Bumble, is a peaceful bee, slow to anger.

Yet, this bee can pack a wallop with her sting, and can repeat sting.

This only happens when the nest is threatened or you are silly enough to try and pick up the bee (or step on one).

Honeybees have a similar demeanor, most wasps and hornets are flat out mean.

You can work among the bees with no problem, I do all the time.

Try to catch or really mess with it, and you will soon know.

Now in my case, I was a young boy that accidentally, unknowingly, stepped on a bumble bee barefooted.

For several days I had no arch in my right foot, and yes I cried.

Properly educated, I enjoy watching bumble bees in flight and feeding.

I will pet a bumble bee.

I teach my grand kids to respect and show them how to pet the bumble.

Respect, no need to Fear.

Yes, the Humble Bumble is the pollinating 'Work Horse' of most yards and gardens.

Successfully mated, the queen over winters by herself, worker bees don't survive winter.

In the spring she establishes a new nest and starts laying eggs and caring for them herself, until enough eggs hatch, pupate and become workers bees.

By late summer and into fall, her brood is large, and very busy.

Pollinating flowers that most bees simply can't get to.

Tomatoes are a bumblebee's specialty.

'Bottle Gentian' (a native wildflower), Bumble's chew a hole through the petals to get to the center of things.

'Vibration Pollination' or 'Buzz Pollination' is a Bumblebee specialty (other species also do this).

Bumblebees are hard at work when other bees stay home.

Cool days don't faze these bees.

Slow them down?


Slow days are great times for observation.

Petting Bumbles:

Seriously, bumble petting is best done on cool days when they are a bit slow.

On warm days, they simply fly off.

For more information on Bumbles, you can read more On Bumble Bees.

I explain more on petting bees (Kids think this is so cool to do).

Also you will find an out-link explaining more on how Bumble Bees fly and other tidbits and facts you may want to know.

The Bumble bee is also the primary pollinator for tomatoes and take on other tasks where smaller bees can't get the job done.

More than 50 species in North America, bumble bees are hive dwelling bees, but the hive only last a year.

A queen survives to start all over the following spring.

This is why only now, you are seeing more bumble bees.

Numbers grow rapidly now as the queen bee has a full time staff to help out.

The Humble Bumble is just one species of native bee welcome in my gardens, and should be in yours too.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“Many of our fears are tissue paper thin,

and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.”

Brendan Francis

Fears are generally taught, (like fear of bees).

Usually be a parent, or someone we listen to.

There should be a big difference between
fear of something and respecting it, (again, respecting bees, not fearing them).

Think about that for a moment.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,

but of power, love, and self-discipline."

2 Timothy 1:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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