South Dakota Bumble Bees's Journal

August 07, 2020

Attack of the drones

Not really attack, but rather, there are males out and about now. Males coloration may be extremely varied, and differ from females. I just took a photo of a American BB drone, and was unsure if it was even a bumble bee. The eyes can be very different from females. When I comment on a photo, I will try to justify my ID. I may be wrong, but I hope my train of thought makes sense. If you are one of the bee experts, I value any input you have on be ID, and why my ID is wrong.

Please keep snapping photos, and posting them here.

Dan

Posted on August 07, 2020 15:38 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 01, 2020

Hunt's Bumble Bees

Early this spring I was seeing Hunt's bumble bees everywhere I went. Now I never see one. Wonder where they are and what they are doing??

Posted on August 01, 2020 12:29 by bess1010 bess1010 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 05, 2020

Iphone Photo tips

I use the "Live" feature for photos. This gives you a small video so you can select the best pose and focus. I will get fairly close to the bee and take 3-4 shots, then try to get closer. I end up deleting most of my photos, but I usually get a one or two photos with nice detail, and I have gotten a couple great photos that would not have been nearly as good with just one frame.

So far, I have three species documented, and seen at least a 4rth. Keep looking and snapping photos!

Dan

Posted on May 05, 2020 14:39 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2020

Bumble Bee Identification

Hello to all 5 followers!

I am learning a bunch about BB ID. For instance, Brown-belted BBs have "short, uniform hair on their heads and abdomens, while two-spotted have long and uneven hair. That, and brown-belted can have defined spots on their abdomen, but often they are clearly separated, while two-spotted bb have the "W" pattern on their abdomen without clean separation of the "spots". Sorry if I ramble here, but just trying to improve my ID skills.

D.

Posted on May 04, 2020 20:28 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 01, 2020

Bumble Bee Nests

Please don't be too worried about or too quick to clean up rock piles or brush piles in your yard. They could be hiding underground bumble bee nests. Yesterday I saw a bumble bee flying around and then it disappeared into some old weed/stick stems by my compost pile. It didn't come back out so I'm hoping it has a nest there. I'll be leaving the debris and watching to see what happens.

Later in the day, I did get photos of a Hunt's bumble bee on the dandelions in my yard (somewhat close to the suspected nest).
Charlie

Posted on May 01, 2020 13:14 by bess1010 bess1010 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2020

Bumble Bees are getting active!

Spring has arrived and all kinds of plants are in bloom! That means that the bumble bees are out and about. This early in the season, many of the bees will be queens, so be mindful of pesticides in and around your flowers! In addition, several of us (me included) are learning about bumble bee ID. There are several excellent guides online including bumble bee watch (https://www.bumblebeewatch.org/) and the forest service guides to eastern and western bumble bees (https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/BumbleBeeGuideEast2011.pdf and https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/BumbleBeeGuideWestern2012.pdf). I would like caution people just learning that Bumble Bee ID can be really tricky. For South Dakota, Brown-belted, Common Eastern, Hunt's, Two-spotted seem to be the most frequently encountered. Three of the species are very similar, brown-belted, common eastern, and two spotted are all similar size and shape. With the right angle, brown-belted and two-spotted are easy to ID by patterns on the abdomen, however those patterns are not always present. Likewise, we are seeing a lot of Hunt's bumble bees this spring, but they are easily confused with Tri-colored bumble bees. The casual difference being a the pattern on back of the thorax, a bar on the Hunt's and a thumbtack outline on the Tri-colored. With really good photos of the face, Hunt's have a long face, hair on the head will be yellow and long while Tri-coloreds will have a face that is nearly as wide as it is long and the hair on the head maybe yellow, but it will appear shorter. So a shaggy vs. a more clean cut look. One really cool result is the number of Hunt's bumble bees seen in the central SD. According the range maps, they are not supposed to be here, but several photos fit the Hunt's description better than the tri-colored (should be state wide). If you make a species id, PLEASE note the reasons for that ID. We are all learning, and we all want to improve our ID skills. Hopefully more of the iNaturalist bee experts take a look at the photos and support our current findings. Keep posting those photos, and hopefully we can expand the SD species list and help guide future range maps!

Dan

Posted on April 28, 2020 21:04 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 09, 2020

Link to our Citizen Science webpage

It is 9 April, and Charlie has created a great link for the pollinator citizen science project. We are focused on Regal Fritillary, Monarch, and Bumble Bees, but hope people will upload photos of any pollinators. In order to maximize observations, we ask you too look at our link, and download the data form for simple pollinator observations here

https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/southdakota/Citizen_Science.php

You can send in completed forms, or you can make sure all the fields are filled out on Inaturalist. There is one caveat, we would like exact locations, but only on paper. Please obscure the exact location in Inaturalist for your back yard, or for rare and sensitive species.

Spring is here, and soon there will be a lot of bumble bees and butterflies in the great outdoors. Get out and enjoy them (at safe socially acceptable distances from each other).

Dan

Posted on April 09, 2020 20:08 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2020

Journal post 1

Welcome to the South Dakota Bumble Bees project. It is April 8, and days are getting warmer. It is only a matter of time until we start seeing the first bumble bees of the year. Most of the early bumble bees will be queens. Unlike honey bees, where the entire colony overwinters, only queen bumble bees hibernate, all the workers and drones do not live past the fall. Did you know, that for many species of bumble bees, queens look different from the workers?

The queen will find a suitable nesting area (hole in the ground, a bird box, under an outbuilding) and lay her first group of eggs. She will keep her eggs warm by shivering (generating heat through moving muscles). She will have a larder of pollen and nectar she eats while tending her eggs. Once the eggs hatch, she will make foraging trips to feed the larvae. When the larvae mature they become the first group of workers for the year, and the queen will no longer leave the nest. The queen will produce workers for most of the summer, but as summer becomes fall, the queen will produce males (all workers are female) and future queens. Unlike the workers, once a queen leaves the nest, she mates and eats pollen and nectar to put on fat. The fat will nourish her throughout the winter, and the cycle begins once again.

I hope everyone gets outsides. Have fun, and keep looking for the bumble bees!

Posted on April 08, 2020 12:41 by bobolinkdk bobolinkdk | 2 comments | Leave a comment

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