Bumble Bee… early observation

The photo shoot for the day started here-

A pair of Canada Geese landed in a grass-sheltered area of the wetland. The plan was to practice using manual settings on my DSLR to experiment with aperture, shutter-speed, and ISO.  That plan soon changed, when…


My concentration was broken by the distinct, loud, buzzing of an insect flying past the camera’s field of view.

I turned to follow the sound trail that fell silent as the large creature tumbled onto a leaf in the salal hedge in the riparian zone.

MUCH to my surprise… there, landed a Bumble Bee.


Interest in the Canada Geese evaporated in the instant it took for the Bumble Bee to settle on the leaf.

The Bumble Bee remained for more than an hour. I happily changed the focus of the practice session to  the new arrival, and took dozens of photographs of her basking on the sun-soaked leaf.

This is the set of photos I selected from the collection to make my first submission to a citizen scientist program  called the Bumble Bee Watch

The Xerces Society, in collaboration with the University of Ottawa, Wildlife Preservation Canada, the Montreal Insectarium, the Natural History Museum of London, and BeeSpotter, will be launching a citizen science initiative to track all species of North American bumble bees. This project will help us to follow the status of these essential pollinators and inform effective conservation actions. With our new website you will be able to upload photos, use an interactive identification tool, and submit georeferenced records of all North American bumble bees.

Are you interested in bumble bees? If so, the site is loaded with resources.

Are you interested in submitting observations? If so, the process is very easy. Register first; then follow the steps to submit photos:

Chart: Bumble Bee Watch

Not sure exactly which bumble bee you observed? No problem, in step three, “Identify your species,” a set of attributes charts helps you to hone in on the selection of a species. Bumble Bee Watch experts then verify, and post the photos as part of a growing data set.

Chart: Bumble Bee Watch

I learned that the bumble bee in my photos is most likely a Vosnesensky bumble bee- Bombus vosnesenskii or Yellow-faced Bumble Bee. She is a female because they are the sole survivors of the previous year’s colony. The solitary queen  emerges after overwintering in the ground in a small cavity she excavated call a hibernaculum. She will locate an appropriate nest site to lay the eggs that will start a new colony.

Resource for this post:

Xerces Society:  Bumble Bees of the Western United States

2 thoughts on “Bumble Bee… early observation

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  1. Eagle eye Jane strikes again. I am in awe of your patience and detailed knowledge 🙂 Just for interest and general irrelevance, we don’t see many bumble bees. I’ve seen more in a couple of visits to New Zealand than I’ve seen in a lifetime here. We do have native bees, though. I’ll have to keep my camera on the alert!

  2. Hi Ken-
    Now that you are on the alert… I predict you will notice more than you imagine. It really is pretty amazing how our “nature sense” lights up if we let it; I think our brains are wired for nature somehow. When the bumblebee arrived on the scene I may have missed the opportunity to see it had the sound not disrupted the focus on the geese.

    I will look forward to any Australian native bee photos you share. Now you have me curious about bumble bees in New Zealand but not in Australia. (But then, Australia IS very unique when it comes to critters;) )


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