Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)
and "Autumn Joy" Stonecrop (Sedum telephium)
I know I said it a few days ago, but this little sister was, without a doubt the last, or at least one of the last, to visit us this year. Nights are hovering around freezing or slightly below, and the happy buzzing congregations of a few weeks ago are only an echo in the wind.
After days of silence in the garden (I wrote about it last week), I was surprised to discover a single little sister making her rounds yesterday morning and visiting the sedum, asters and late blooming Russian lavender in turn. There are years when we have bumbles well into October, but this is not going to be one of those years.
The wee girl was alone for quite a while gathering late nectar among the pink and copper garden sedums, and she moved with painstaking slowness in the chilly morning air. As the day warmed up a little, she was joined by a two or three sisters, but gone are the merry throngs cavorting among the stalwart bloomings of autumn.
Why do I love these creatures so? There is a lesson or three to be learned from the ever cheerful and plucky bumbles, fuzzy little propagators of flowers, vegetables and fruit. As days shorten and temperatures plummet, they continue their appointed work, buzzing about and gathering nectar as long as they can. Knowing all the while that winter is coming and their precious days are numbered, they dance from flower to late autumn flower, and oh how they sing and kick up their heels in their last time on the earth. They are smaller by far, but like the herons and the loons and the great geese, I shall miss them when winter drapes the landscape.
Like their kin the honeybees, bumbles are in serious decline, and we should do anything we can to preserve them here on earth.