Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest Bee Atlas

Bee butts

13 Jul

Everyday, I walk past a neighbor’s zinnia bed. It’s a little past the halfway mark on homeward leg of the journey. A rock wall surrounds the bed and Richard likes to stop and sniff the stones, eager to read the messages of his people. While he sniffs, I lean in, looking for bumble bees.

I have developed a fascination with bumble bees. One day, I noticed two bumble bees on the butterfly bush out my back door. Butterfly bushes are considered invasive species in Oregon and are very hard to kill, but the attract a variety of pollinators, including bumble bees.

Whenever I see a bee I lean in close. In college, a friend and I took a beekeeping class and set up a hive, which we later gave to a local beekeeper, as we moved on after graduation. I learned to be calm and gentle around bees and so I lean in when I see bees.

The butterfly bush hosted several bumble bees that day. I leaned in close and noticed that although they looked alike from a distance, the two bumble bees I leaned into, were very different. You think you know something and then you notice something and your world is rocked. This observation rocked my world. Not only were their stripes different, one of the bees had orange, in addition to yellow and black on its body. I did a little research and discovered the Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas.

I had no idea that there was such variety. I have become an obsessed observer. Whenever Richard stops to sniff, I scan for bee butts, trying to see the colors and patterns.

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