Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Ramble - A Harvest of Bees

It's that time again.  Goldenrod is in bloom everywhere in the Lanark highlands, and almost every waving stand of the splendid yellow stuff is filled with frantically buzzing, intoxicated bumblebees.  Dusted from stem to fuzzy stern with gold, the little flyers are like comets or shooting stars as they zoom from flower to flower, trailing pollen behind them like showers of stardust.   Flowering goldenrod makes my eyes water, and it gives me the sniffles, but it also gives me bumblebees in season, and so, I tolerate it.  I've had a "pash" for bumbles and their culture ever since I can remember.

Their flight patterns are erratic and almost too swift to be captured with a lens, but it is always a treat to watch bumble girls lurching from bloom to bloom and kicking up their heels like chorus dancers. Now and then, I manage to capture an acceptable photo, but it doesn't happen often.

Early mornings are something completely different, for the cooler nights in late summer slow bumblebees right down. Being cold blooded (or poikilothermic), they don't maintain a constant internal body temperature and must warm up in order for their flight apparatus to function.  It's not unusual to find scores of bumbles drowsing among goldenrod clusters at first light and barely moving at all.  A little warmth and sunlight on their flight muscles, and they're off and foraging again.

Watching bumble girls cavort in the goldenrod this week, I thought about the fact that they live for a single summer.  It made their songs and their obvious pleasure in gathering their daily bread a poignant and beautiful thing.

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