It’s the season of pulling out tomato plants and taking down bean towers. It’s the season of very few bees. And I’m wondering if the bumble bee queens in our yard have gone to their nests, tucked in for cold weather. Wherever the bees and butterflies are, I hope they are safe. I’m leaving a few flower stalks and brush piles for them and other insects this year. Insect scientists say a good garden doesn’t have to be perfectly neat.
When they come out in the spring, the lovely “new queen” pictured (in process) here, an illustration by Claudia McGehee, will come out with them. She is part of a new book, Begin with a Bee, written by Liza Ketchum, Phyllis Root, and me, and illustrated by Claudia McGehee (published by the University of Minnesota Press). We are all excited about this book.
This queen is not just any bumblebee. She is a Rusty-patched bumblebee. These bees used to be found all over the northern states of the United States, but they have disappeared from many states in the last decades. They are the first bees to be placed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species list. But we still see them occasionally in Iowa and Minnesota.
If we help our yards become more bee-friendly perhaps we will see Rusty-patched bees more often. And our new book has many suggestions for being friendly to bees.
If you are still seeing bees this fall and want help identifying what you are seeing you might want to visit https://beespotter.org/.