Monday, April 18, 2011

Let Sleeping Bumblebees Lie

The blustery days of late have produced behavior in humans that is normal for those that are clamoring for warm, sunny weather. We're still wearing heavy coats at times and we avoid going outside unless we have to. Oh, we've had a few nice days, but not nearly enough and we're losing patience with Mother Nature.

We aren't the only ones.

As I was walking about the gardens this evening, snapping photographs of spring flowers - getting right down in their faces - I found myself intruding on the privacy of one Mr. Bumblebee. It was about 7:30 p.m., 50°F, and the winds were blowing at 25 mph. It felt cold. I had a coat on, but Mr. Bumblebee was taking shelter inside a large-cupped yellow daffodil.

I saw the butt end of things and for a second, I thought he had crawled in there and died. But knowing that bumblebees sleep inside flowers and having witnessed it many times before, I gave his fuzzy little bum a tickle. Not dead - just sleeping and trying to keep warm.

Whether they're just sleeping, trying to keep warm, or both, you can pretty safely "pet" these bees if you're gentle, as they'll be pretty lethargic. Males are much more likely to stay inside a flower overnight and male bumblebees don't sting, so despite the fact that I'm allergic to bee stings, I didn't really feel like I was taking much of a risk by touching the bee. His only reaction was to move a hind leg a couple of millimeters in super slow speed.

Bumblebees are like butterflies, in that they can't fly if they get too cold, so I think I'll go out in the morning and see if he's still there before the day starts to warm up. Do you think he will be? Do you think the day will warm up? I'm not betting on either one.

EDIT: As of 8:00 this morning, Mr. Bumblebee is still snug in the daffodil, and with good reason. It's 37°, the wind chill is 32°, and it's pouring down rain.


Unknown said...

This was educational for me and I appreciated it and I always love your Blogs!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Poor Mr Bumble. He sure looks cold to me. Isn't he cute all snuggled into that daffodil?

Unknown said...

Poor bumble..he does look cold!

RedGardenClogs said...

Great photos!

Over the weekend I was digging up an area to put in some transplants and I discovered two large bumblebees about 6-7 inches down in the earth! They were lethargic too, but very much alive.

Is it possible that they were hibernating down there? Do bees hibernate? Underground? It's amazing to me that they could survive down there with all the rain lately and the soil being a little compacted there, but here they were! I put them on the ground under a pile of last year's pruned tree branches with a newly dug up patch of ground in case they wanted back in.

It was very much a surprise - first one, then the other! Not as cute as your guy inside the daffodil cup, though!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Kylee!
I didn't know that bumbles behave like butterflies in chilly weather. Poor little guy. He certainly picked a pretty place to hunker down, though. I popped over to see if you're attending the Seattle Fling. I've decided to do the same. I hope we finally get to meet in person. :)) See you in July!

Rose said...

How adorable! It makes me want to find a bumblebee early one morning and pet him, too. I do hope, though, he survived the cold.

Garden Lily said...

Kylee, that's hilarious! I don't think I've ever tickled the bum of a bumblebee! I haven't heard that males don't sting, either, but then again, they are pretty peaceful creatures, from what I've experienced. Thanks for the story!

Anonymous said...

Someday I'm going to be brave enough to pet a bumblebee! Between you and Gail from Clay and Limestone, I'm getting inspired!

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