Over the past two years I've been watching and photographing the bees that visit the native flowers in our gardens. I was amazed at the variety. I always thought a bumble bee was a bumble bee...until I started to look closer. Now there's an outstanding field guide to the 46 species that live in North America. AND it's easy enough for even me!
In the introduction they note that "everybody likes bumble bees." Their big fuzzy buzzing bodies zoom around our gardens seemingly ignoring our presence. They are one of the main pollinators of our food supplies, there pollination service is estimated to be worth $10 billion dollars every year.
I think you are aware of the colony collapse of honey bees, evidence is now showing the same fate may befall the bumble bees as well. Too many chemicals and pesticides are being used in factory farms as well as residential areas. Everyone wants a pretty weed free lawn it seems...at the expense of the future of these lovely insects.
Franklin's Bumble Bee is thought to be extinct. The Rusty-patched Bumble Bee is now listed as Endangered in Canada. You can do something by joining Bumble Bee Watch . It's free and you can download your photos of bees and help this citizen science project.
Oh, and buy the guide too. Then you'll realize how many different buzzy things are in your garden!
The information is very easy to use. Range maps and color patterns are shown for every species in addition to seasonal occurrences.
Now to get to work finding the names for all of my bumbles...
The first chapter mesmerized me."Yesterday's Birds" concerns the discovery of fossilized remains of lizards and what was soon learned to be the earliest records of birds. Every important name in the historical records of ornithology is included.
It's broken down by the major areas of ornithology, including evolution, classification, migration and more. And yes, there are great illustrations and photographs throughout. This is a fine and easy to read history of the fathers of birding and ornithology.
This illustration of Archaeopterxy by Rudolf Freund was for an article in Life magazine on evolution in 1959.
An Anhinga from Florida in 2006...by me.
Of no historical importance.