Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bumble Bee Intermission

A week or so ago I was out thumping around on my porch. It was night, so it was dark, and I found the deep buzzing that followed one of my thumps disturbing. I guess a bee buzz is fairly distinct because my brain instantly identified the sound "BEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". I like all sorts if 'creepy' critters. Snakes, slugs, worms, spiders, mice, rats, etc are all just fun and interesting to me. Bees, well, they may be interesting but I'm moderately allergic. With all the time I spend outdoors, I can expect to get stung. I understand that, but that's not how it works with me. If it were somewhat predictable I probably wouldn't feel so nervous around bees, but I get stung at the strangest times- driving down the road, taking the books out of my locker in school and sitting by the fireplace.

I was rather alarmed by the buzzing. It took me about a week to locate the source of the buzzing. Partly because I was reluctant to get close and I was working a lot so it was usually dark when I was on the porch. It was odd, because I thought they'd bee easy to see. I've seen plenty of hives and there are is always a lot of activity. This wasn't happening. Also, it seemed like the buzzing was coming from an old birds nest. I quickly determined that what was living on my porch was not a wasp/hornet and I was in quite the dilemma. Bees are good and disappearing. I didn't want to have to harm them. The nest was right above Coal's dog bed too. Sure, I can move Coal's bed but that doesn't mean Coal is going to stay out of that area. He has to be able to go into the fenced in yard.

They were rather annoyed with the picture taking
I considered retreating but all they did is buzz
This is the most bees I've seen at one time (click on photo to enlarge)

Finally, I was positive of my identification. They are bumble bees! I am still nervous, but I have also found them fun and I'm very curious. I have climbed onto the porch railing so I can peer closely into the nest. They really seem quite docile. I've done quite a bit of research online, but the information is somewhat contradictory and lacking. The information that does seem to be consistent is that bumble bees nest in odd places like birds nests, they don't produce much honey (just enough for the hive), they are less aggressive then honey bees, they don't lose their stinger after stinging and their colonies are small compared to honey bees (a few hundred bees at the very most). There are over 200 species of bumble bees! The buzzing sound doesn't come from their wings, it comes from vibrating their thorax.

The bee 'nest'

I am going to try to live with the bees. There don't seem to be many bees in the colony at all. I suppose the number will grow as summer progress. Coal, my gentle mutt who is even scared of bubbles, gets a little crazed and obsessive when it comes to bees. So far, I've only seen one altercation between him and the bumble bee, and no one seemed to be harmed. Since he's old, slow and mostly deaf I think maybe Coal can live with the bees too. I imagine I'll keep updating on the status of 'my' bumble bees.

The nest is above the wind sock
I stand on the porch railing to view the bees
Coal slept through the picture taking and bee annoyance