I do not know the species here and I dare not to identify it. But I do not remember seeing bumblebees with this color regularly here, whereas this year they are almost the only ones I see.
The weather has been a rollercoaster these last weeks, with 20° four weeks ago and light snow over the last few days. What’s more, the weather changes every 10 minutes and 500 metres. And all of this while the first bumblebees are out, seeking nectar from the first flowers. Then they get hit by the snow and almost freeze to death. If I find them, I take them in for a snack and some warmth. They are gentle creatures and will snuggle in your hand.
Look at that tongue! Like a flying ant eater.
I have tried to plant some strawflowers this year and I am going to make an even bigger patch next year. They are beautiful and butterflies and bees simply love them to bits. I have several red admirals there during a sunny day.
There are ten pictures, so nine are below the fold. Do you recognize the bee mimicking hoverfly?
A fabulous photo from Avalus,
A bunch of bees roaming around in a big thistle flower at my local fruit and veg shop. It was an amazing buzz. I did try a video, but with lots of people talking loudly (highly frequented open shop) I could not use it.
Pz has been raging and ranting about lawns and lawnmowers and I wholeheartedly agree. It also prompted me to do a bit of bragging about the sheer beauty of not having a lawn. Let’s start with the front yard, which was carefully weeded when we bought the house. Here’s another aspect of those lawn and front yard regulations: To keep them up to “standards” you need time to do it or money to hire somebody else to do it. I quickly reduced weeding to an absolute minimum. Nobody touches a dandelion in MY front yard. One thing that happened quickly was that wild strawberries overtook most of the ground. They do many things at once:
First, they protect the ground from drying out.
Second, they provide flowers for pollinators.
Third, they taste so good.
In spring I built a plant tower in an empty space that had previously been occupied by some useless evergreen bush that got thankfully eaten by caterpillars. I also planted some regular strawberries there.
Guarded by my little dragons
If you want to make bees happy, plant lavender. It will also make you happy. Lavender is low maintenance, just cut off the dry stalks in autumn and ok with dry weather. I don’t know if it can survive Minnesota winters.
Probably no German frontyard is complete without a hydrangea. They are lovely, but high maintenance (needing much water, cutting, right ground) and absolutely no good for insects. Like most plants here they are a leftover from the previous owner. I figure that with so many bee friendly plants around I can afford a couple that only look nice.
I have no idea about most of the plants that grow here. They were already well established when we moved in. Some of them have already bloomed long ago. I basically get flowers from March to October.
Also one corner has been taken over by some wildflowers. I like them, the insects like them. We’re good.
Oh, and btw, the next door neighbour has a lawn (I’m not criticising her, she’s 90 and still living all alone). It’s a sad brown area right now and the grass always creeps into my yard which means that I have to do the weeding there.
Story and pictures by Avalus
I noticed earth-bees emerging and vanishing between two stone plates in the paveway in the garden, so I crouched down and waited for the next bee to come out. But the inhabitants were not that sure about the sudden appearance of a strange black block in front of their door and so cautiously just poked their heads out only to retreat again. (first picture and the detail cut out, with a head of a bee eying me suspiciously visible) Then after five minutes or so one of them had enough of the paparazzi, moved out and took off just as I moved in a more comfortable position and so I nearly missed her. As you can see, I just captured her butt :D.
From Avalus, two small creatures hard at work. One of them looks adorably fuzzy and cute, and the other one looks fierce and ferocious.
The Black Bee I found buzzing around in this bush, covered in pollen.
On the same day, I found this wasp. She sports some terrifying mandibles!
It was a wet and windy weekend, and by this morning, almost all the pretty leaves had blown away. There are a few bright patches here and there, but the riot of colour is finished for another year. Jack and I set out feeling a bit blue about the bare trees, but the sun was shining, the day was warm and pleasant, and it wasn’t long before we were both feeling better. The colour may be gone looking up, but there’s still plenty of pretty here on the ground. We passed burning bushes burning scarlet and porches with pumpkins and mums in pots. We found lavender of the palest blue, golden hostas and even a red-breasted robin picking at purple berries. The fallen leaves from the weekend are still full of colour, too, and they brightly litter the ground in every direction. Jack says he can see the leaves better this way, and he thinks that’s why they fall – so the small creatures who don’t look up much can appreciate them too. I didn’t tell him otherwise.
A beautiful, short, sad story from Avalus.
Last year, I photographed bumblebees on lavender. This year, it was much less frequented but still abuzz with all kinds of bees. You can really see how much less insects are around.
Sometimes a bumblebee lands, drinks a bit, and then flies off again like a little helicopter. Not these two though. They both took their time, going around the flower systematically in a circle, drinking as much as they can. And just when I was taking the pictures, one of them decided to take off.