Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bumble Bee Village

Last summer I had some interesting encounters with different species of bees. I met mason bees in early spring, tiny fuzzy creatures that were quick to come when sugar syrup or honey were on offer for spring feeding.

Bumble bees came too and I made a wooden home for them and a queen moved in shortly after I set it out. While working our education and selling table at the Pioneer Village in late summer one of the volunteers (dressed in period costume) came to ask me to identify some bees they had spotted on the ground near one of the pioneer homes. It turns out they were bumble bees and there were a lot of them!

It was incredible to watch. They had created a bumble bee village out of an area about 2 1/2 ' x 4' of dry but soft soil next to the house, but away from the porch steps. They had been there all season long and had gone unnoticed until recently when the gardeners trimmed down all the vegetation. It revealed a whole village full of little fuzzy yellow and black bumble bees.

They were living in tunnels in the  ground and many were busy excavating the soil. They would dig with their feet and use their bodies like a bulldozer to back the soil out of the tunnels. It was amazing to watch and I took some video as well. The gardens are all maintained the old fashioned pioneer way--organic--so the area is a wonderfully safe haven for them. The woman said she'd be sure to tell the gardeners they were there so they'd not disturb them. I will be checking on them again when spring comes and we're back at the Village to sell our honey.

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