I arrived at my parent's home on Sunday to a rather amusing story from my Papa. He had been out doing some yard work when he crossed paths with what he said was the biggest bumble bee he had ever seen. According to him, the furry insect began to fly closer and closer, buzzing angerly towards his face. Apparently the two were in a skirmish over the small plot of grass my Papa was working in. In a move of desperation my Papa swatted at the bumblebee accidentally knocking it to the ground. Worried about the bee he walked over to make sure it was ok. The bumblebee was so fat and weighed down by pollen that he could not roll off his back. With mild hesitation my Papa gave him a little nudge to roll him over and off he flew!
As I was leaving that day I heard a rather loud buzzing myself, and there it was! The largest bumble bee I had ever seen! buzzing from blossom to blossom increasingly weighed down by the large collection of pollen forming on its legs.
This in turn got me thinking about bumblebees. A particular favorite of mine, they're fuzzy presence is always a welcome one.
I started poking around to see what I could find. As with many species of bees these days, their numbers are in decline. Although in the UK, species once thought extinct have recently been reintroduced. Possibly most famous for their ability to defy gravity, scientists once declared it was physically impossible for bumblebees to fly, bumblebees are actually very good at just that. Though not as aerodynamic as say a wasp, they are quite good at loading up as much pollen as possible and slowly, but surely bringing it back to the colony. The life cycle of a bumblebee is also a fascinating thing, especially when narrated by David Attenborough (the narrator from BBC's Planet Earth).
As I sat and watched the large bumblebee continue on its way back to the colony I couldn't help but here this famous piece of music in the background...
... three cheers for the humble and hard-working bumble bee!
*Last time in Nature: Reflections