Why Do Bees Just ‘Hang Out’?

9 10 2012

Bees are supposed to be busy. Always on the move. Foraging, scouting, collecting, helping the hive thrive. But sometimes, you see a bee just sort of hanging out. Not moving. Not doing much of anything.

There may be a few reasons for this. First, it might be too cold. Bees’ flight muscles need to be held at specific temperatures in order to work properly. When it gets too cold (especially when it is too cold for the insect to shiver and thus raise muscle temperatures), they are grounded.

Another reason might be that the bee is old and tired. This might especially be the case if you notice ragged wings on the bee and it is later in the season.

It could also be possible that the bee (especially males) has forgotten to fuel up by drinking nectar during all of its flying around. No fuel means no energy.

I had a photo submission from 100twenty out in Southern Quebec. A quiet bumble was found hanging off the wild aster in Gatineau Park. One thing about grounded bees – they make for excellent photo opportunities ;)

Dahlia coccinea Visitor

26 08 2012

This incredibly hairy bumble was spotted in downtown Vancouver, BC among the dahlia.

Dahlia coccinea and bumble bee visitor

Mystery Brown Bumble Bee

4 06 2012
Bombus humilis - Brown-Banded Carder Bee

Bombus humilis – Brown-Banded Carder Bee

At least it looks like a bumble bee with its round fuzzy body. It is mostly brown, a gingery-tan colour. Beautiful, actually. The problem I’m having is in identifying it.

It was spotted in the phlox in Southern Quebec. the closest species I’ve been able to find thus far is Bombus humilis – the Brown-Banded Carder bee (see drawing to the left) – but the problem is that it is only found in Southern England and is rather endangered. Hmmm.

I’m including two photos below of the mystery bee frolicking in the phlox (indicating a medium- to long-tongued bee) and would LOVE any suggestions.

Mystery Brown Insect in Quebec

Mystery Brown Insect in Quebec in the Phlox


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