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Bumbling around in the Garden

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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-12-2010 04:16 PM 661 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My garden boss and I are taking a break today. We did drive out with our little trailer and picked up another load of bark to do the rest of the beds.

We get a lot of bumble bees in our yard and I was able to take some close-ups of them.I thought you might enjoy seeing them at work. Especially those who don’t have many. We love the little critters. They are non-aggressive and amusing to watch.

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Given the wing area to weight ratio, an aeronautics engineer would tell you that bumble bees can’t possibly fly. I guess that makes them another of natures miracles. That’s another reason why I like them. I hoped you like them too.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian



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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

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30 comments so far

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1929 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-12-2010 04:47 PM

Great photos, especially the first one. I think you are getting used to that new camera. I really like bumble bees too. My youngest son game me a dried up bumble bee as a present for Mother’s Day last Sunday. : ) He was very careful not to crush it as they are quite delicate. One of my favorite authors, Bernd Heinrich, wrote a book Bumblebee Economics that I recommend if you want to learn more about these fascinating insects.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2287 posts in 2487 days

posted 05-12-2010 05:13 PM

Bumble Bees are so cool. I recently read that they pollunate way more veggies, flowers, fruits and berries in a day then a honey bee. Berry farmers make special Hives for them so that when the exit the hive they coat themselves in a fungus/mold and this mold/fungus is carried to berry bushes which in turn fights and destroys another fungus that kills the berries…..............if that made sense?

I really enjoy watching them work.

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 05:44 PM

I’m glad others out there feel the same way about bumble bees as I do. I’ll try to get that book from Amazon Robin and thanks for recommending it. And thank you too Greenthumb for adding to my almost zero knowledge of bumble bees. My wife informs me that the greenhouse producers here buy bumble bees to release into their greenhouses for pollination purposes (I knew that).

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View sharad's profile

sharad

1639 posts in 1884 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 05-12-2010 07:33 PM

Mike you have captured very nice pictures of this friendly insect of gardeners and farmers. It is not easy to photograph them. I zoomed in one of your pictures and found that even hairs are visible to some extent.
Following information is interesting to dispel our faith that Bumble Bee’s flight is a miracle
“In his 1934 French book Le vol des insectes, M. Magnan wrote that he and a Mr. Saint-Lague had applied the equations of air resistance to bumblebees and found that their flight could not be explained by fixed-wing calculations, but that “One shouldn’t be surprised that the results of the calculations don’t square with reality”.[10] This has led to a common misconception that bees “violate aerodynamic theory”, but in fact it merely confirms that bees do not engage in fixed-wing flight, and that their flight is explained by other mechanics, such as those used by helicopters.[11]

In 1996 Charlie Ellington at Cambridge University showed that vortices created by many insects’ wings and non-linear effects were a vital source of lift;[12] vortices and non-linear phenomena are notoriously difficult areas of hydrodynamics, which has made for slow progress in theoretical understanding of insect flight.”

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1969 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-12-2010 08:25 PM

Did you ever consider that bees may not be flying. Maybe the earth is rejecting them.

In 2008 there was a bee crisis. US was importing bees from Australia to pollinate crops. I haven’t heard anything about it lately. Hopefully they are recovering. It will be slim pickins if bees are all gone ;-(

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 08:57 PM

Once again Sharad, I have to thank you for enlightening us (me especially). An elegant explanation. The facts are usually more interesting than the myths as in this case.

Bob, do you mean that the Australian bees brought a disease with them? I know this is a very serious problem in Europe too. The English are in fact trying to breed more of their indigenous bees, the black bee because they are supposedly a hardier species. And I totally agree that without bees agriculture will be in very serious trouble. In Norway, just the cold did a lot of damage this year with many dead hives, and I read in the news that elsewhere bees populations have declined by up to 30%. Not sure how accurate that figure is though.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View dini's profile

dini

1591 posts in 2383 days
hardiness zone 5

posted 05-12-2010 09:27 PM

In spite of a severe allergy to all bee and wasp sting, I love the bumblers. They never seem to threaten, the way wasps, or even honeybees do, and they are just so cool to watch!

-- the day you quit learning is the day you quit living.

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 09:55 PM

That is our experience too Dini. Love your Tin Man by the way.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View donjoe's profile

donjoe

220 posts in 1652 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 10:50 PM

Wonderful photos Mike. I agree you are mastering your new camera. Bees are indeed marvelous creatures that we need more than they need us.

-- Donnie in sunny South Carolina

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1969 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-12-2010 11:10 PM

Mike, No, they were bringing Ozzie bees to replace the american bees that had disappeared. No one knew what happened to them, they just weren’t coming to do the job. There was big concern there wouldn’t be any bees left in another year or two. It must be getting better. hasn’t been in the news lately.

I suspect there may be a lot of 100 year cycles, maybe even longer, that we don’t know about. What about a 100 year solar flare cycle that as high enough radiation to kill all microchips. We wouldn’t know, because 100 years ago there were no microchips ;-))

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-12-2010 11:45 PM

Thanks Donnie, but I’m sure I will never even begin to master it. I’ve had my little Leica Digital camera for 10 years and I still haven’t learned much beyond pushing the button. These new cameras sure are smart though and they allow amateurs like me to take some pretty good photos. I guess you could say that the camera is mastering me! I’m glad you like the bees.

Yes Bob. I agree with you there. Lots of stuff probably happens cyclically over long periods of time that haven’t been recorded and aren’t known. I’m sure lots of living creatures are constantly becoming extinct while others are evolving that are more suitable for whatever environmental niche the earth has to offer at any given time.

Of course with 6 or 7 billion humans on earth as today, there is a lot less room for other life. When I was a kid about 12yrs. old I seem to remember there were about 2,5 billion inhabitants at the time. So if that’s correct we have almost trebled the world population in only 58 years. I wonder what the next 58 years will bring?

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

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Bon

7374 posts in 2447 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-13-2010 01:09 AM

I love the bumble bees too Mike.I have them here in the summer when the flowers and veggies are all in bloom.Love the sound they make and also that they don’t sting me.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2296 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-13-2010 04:00 AM

Fantastic pictures of the bumbllebee, Mike. I have many of them in my garden already, despite the cold. They are a wonderful insect to study in the garden setting. Looking at your pictures, I wondered if our CA B-bees are the same as your Norway bees. If the sun shines tomorrow, I’m going to try and get a close-up of one of ours, to compare. :)

There has been much concern re. our honeybees as bee keepers everywhere have experienced huge hive losses. I watched a documentary on a pubic tv channel that described the phenomenon as ‘Bee Colony Collapse’ (BCC). Something they felt was cause by a mite that infected each colony and systematically destroyed every bee in it. Once in a bee yard, every colony would be wiped out.

Of course this has not only affected the beekeepers who rely on the honey production, but also detrimentally affects all aspects of agriculture.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-13-2010 11:00 AM

Hi Iris. Yes, we too have heard the same and it is a bit scary. I hope the scientists find a remedy. As far as I know this plague hasn’t yet reached us here in Norway. It would be fun to see your comparison photos of the bumble bees.

Hello Bob Here is the pic of my old Minolta that I promised to show you. It’s a 50mm. Way too much camera for the likes of me. It’s a shame I didn’t use it much over the last 34 years.

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-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2667 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-13-2010 12:41 PM

great photos
cute bees .. I watched one once and it was SO covered with pollen I almost couldn’t see the bee!

oooooh and nice Minolta as well. I have Minolta but nothing as pretty as that little treasure :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-13-2010 06:38 PM

Hi Debbie. I probably should have donated it years ago to someone who actually knew how to use it. I didn’t even realize it was a 50mm until I took it out today to show it to Bob (Topomaxsurvivor). Sweet camera, but too late for me. What was I thinking all those years?

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Cynthia's profile

Cynthia

651 posts in 2072 days

posted 05-13-2010 08:38 PM

Do the Aussie bees have accents when they buzz? Do they look different? Your bee photos are great! Does your wife know that you are taking photos of bees and not gardening? Keep your blogs coming…

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-13-2010 09:20 PM

I don’t know much about Aussie bees Cynthia because I live in Norway. You should as David from Adelaide.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1969 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-14-2010 02:17 AM

Mike, Looks like that Minolta has an auto mode? Probably does everything but focus?? I may be wrong, I had Nikons. Maybe almost as easy to use as the new Nikon digital:-))

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-14-2010 09:36 AM

I doubt there is any auto focus involved Bob, but I will have to take a closer look at it. Did they have auto focus back in ‘76?

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1700 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 05-14-2010 11:19 AM

I used a Pentax before the digital age took over. Now I use either my Olympus E 300 ( which is n’t a bad entry level dslr) or my Sony Cybershot ( which I bought for my wife when our grandson was born). They both take very good quality pictures and have plenty of options. I do intend to by a better camers in the near future but I’m taking my time and having a good look. ( so many cameras so many choices)
By the way great pictures of one of mother natures greatest helpers.
Aussie bees just buzz the same as euopean bees :0 :) however the don’t sting and their honey isn’t up to standard ( they don’t produce enough as far as I can gather ) which is why we have european bees here as well….......

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-14-2010 12:48 PM

Interesting that about production David. We have a Lumberjocks member who makes beehives in upper state New York and he makes them so two separate hives are in the same stack and that keeps the hive warmer in winter and that allow them an earlier start in Spring or Summer which increases their production by 20 or 30% if I remember correctly. This different type of hive was invented or designed by one of those smart Canadians.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2296 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-14-2010 02:32 PM

We had a persistant , all-day rain yesterday, Mike, so I was not out in the gardens looking for bumblebees to photo. But today is a new day, sunny and bright. suppose to warm-up nicely. I intend to spend as much time as I can outside. I should have a pic of a CA bumblebee by tonight. :)

I let my lawn grow as it will, Mike. No chemicals. First and most important, I wouldn’t want to put anything on the lawn that might be detrimental to the birds, butterflies and any other bugs that visit my space, including the earthworms,frogs and snakes. My other consideration is my cat. While he does not roam the outdoors at will, he often keeps me company when I’m working in the gardens. So, like Robin, except for mowing, my lawn has quite a variety of weeds as well as some grass growing in it. I do dig out dandelions if they get too close to the flower beds. It might be a different story if I had a ‘reluctant assistant’. 8^)

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-14-2010 02:41 PM

My thinking is that most assistants are a bit reluctant Iris. I don’t like to use chemicals either. I try do all the lawn renovating mechanically. Yesterday while finishing up the edging, the hardest part was shaking the worms out of the dirt to get them back into the soil. Humble creatures but much better helpers in the garden than myself.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1969 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-15-2010 03:15 AM

I’m not sure, but Nikon had auto modes for everything else. I got a manual camera, because I wanted to learn it and control it.

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2296 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-15-2010 05:54 AM

I tried to get a good pic of one of my B-bees today, Mike. Not too bad a shot, taken with my little Sony Cyber-shot. That is the camera I keep tucked in my pocket when I’m working in the garden.
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Comparing the pics you took and the pic I took, I think there is a difference bt the Norway bees and the CA bees. It looks like your bee has more yellow on it than the CA bee, and your bee looks like it is fuzzier.. :) What do you think?

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

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TopamaxSurvivor

192 posts in 1969 days
hardiness zone 7b

posted 05-15-2010 07:46 AM

Nice pictures Iris. Definitely a yellowier bee than Mikes. I’ll have to see if I can find mine. Wonder what they look like?

These digital cameras absolutely amaze me!! :-) It would be incredibly difficult to get these shots with my old film camera before macro lens.

Last year or the year before, I was so taken with my digital, I spent an hour of two taking pictures of bees flying around our rhodys.

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-15-2010 11:36 AM

Nice shot Iris. I. Only the first one actually came up as a picture in the link. The other said there was a pic, but it never showed up. Your bee does look a lot different. Ours have a yellow tip on the tail and the wings are black while yours seem to have brownish wings and a black tail tip. Ours does look a little fuzzier like you said. I have been using a very small digital too the past 10 years. It is a great little camera and I especially value the fact that it’s easy to take with me wherever I go as it just fits in a little leather case that goes on my belt. Larger cameras can be cumbersome.

Hi Bob, I’ve been trying to learn more about photography. My first step is getting better acquainted with the terminology and the camera’s features. I think it is going to be a long time before I’ve even gotten to the basics. Meanwhile it’s wonderful to have the auto features to save me from myself. My goal isn’t photography for it’s own sake, but just to get shots of stuff I find interesting. I just hate being so ignorant about it! My plan is to spend a little time each day to learn something new.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1700 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 05-16-2010 12:20 PM

Just thought I’d add this picture for you

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

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stefang

393 posts in 1646 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-16-2010 01:13 PM

Great bee shot David. Strangely, we don’t don’t see many regular bees at our place, but we do have lots of . hornets. I’ve found that hornets aren’t particularly aggressive unless they feel threatened, so they are really no problem either.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

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