Common Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) and
Late Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
In the chilly light of morning, the late blooming goldenrod on our hill in the Lanark highlands is full of slow moving bumblebees, and they are easy to capture with camera and lens. Late September is the perfect time for doing bumble counts and taking photo after photo—the wee girls are silent and almost motionless until they are warm enough to fly and get on with gathering nectar for the queen who will hibernate alone in an underground nest all winter.
A bumble's wing muscles must be warmer than 30oC, and its thorax must be between 30o and 40o C in order for it to fly. To warm up for flight on cool autumn mornings, the bumble disengages its wings from its wing muscles and then vibrates the wing muscles to elevate its thorax temperature.Male bumbles hatch out in autumn, and this could be a male, but given its lavishly furred legs, the bumble in my photo is most likely a queen or a worker. I am going to miss the little sisters when frost fells them in a few weeks, and plans are already underway to create a bumble garden next year. We are doing the necessary research now.
This world's bumbles and bees are threatened, and something has to be done. The little sisters pollinate our fruit trees and vineyards, our flower and vegetable gardens. They give us pleasure and companionship all summer long, and they ask for little or nothing in return. Creating a sanctuary is a small thing and the least we can do for them—that and not using toxic chemicals to tame the places where they make their homes in season.