My recent vistiors

wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)July 30, 2011

It's been slow for butterflies...these are images captured in my garden the past few days.

The garden is full of all kinds of bees - bumble bees, honey bees, and very large mostly black bees...

This little guy landed right in front of me as if to pose for the camera...

I've got two of these little critters hanging out on the butterfly weed. They are quite fat and happy.

And a few butterflies:

She rested on this redbud tree after laying lots of eggs on dill.

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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

That top picture is a carpenter bee.

I have not seen a bumblebee since the '90s. They are having major problems.

Here is a link that might be useful: Researchers discover a shocking 96 percent decline in four major bumblebee species

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:00PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Thank you for the clarification. I'll have to take more pictures and maybe you can tell me what all varieties I have. Way more than I can identify...


    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:03PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I thought the first was a bumblebee too, Laura. Only time I've seen carpenter bees was when we lived in TN. I've never seen them up here in N IL.

If I may ask KC, what's this? I always thought it was a bumblebee? S/he wasn't the object of the photo, the blooms of the buttonbush were, and s/he happened to fly in as I was ready to take the picture.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:23PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

A butterfly garden is always so much more than just the butterflies and caterpillars, Laura, and your pictures show it. I especially love the picture of the dragonfly. We have a lot of them here - ponds are everywhere - and one day I'm going to learn about their life cycle and start trying to photograph as many of them as possible. And we have lots of little green frogs, too - they're darling!
If anybody on this forum knows their bees, I could keep them IDing for a long time. Bees are plentiful here, too. Most of them are bumblebees, but some are what I call honeybees, but maybe they aren't, plus lots that I haven't ID'd.
Great pictures!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:58PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

If you go worldwide, you can find some bumble bees with black abdomens but, AFAIK, in North America all bumble bees (genus Bombus) have at least some yellow on their abdomen.

The most widespread bumble bee is the yellow bumble bee which has an abdomen which is mostly yellow with a black band at the end.

The American bumble bee has a wide yellow band on its abdomen with black bands at the top and bottom of the abdomen.

The eastern carpenter bee is the bee most people call a bumblebee but is not. Its abdomen is completely black and it has a black spot in the middle of its thorax.

The giant resin bee is a bee that got here from east Asia and is found all over the eastern US. It looks a lot like an eastern carpenter bee but is a little skinnier and it sorta has a dark orange thorax hump surrounded by yellow.

Out west you have Centris bees that look like eastern carpenter bees without the black dot on the thorax.

Bumble bees are the US's only native social bee (queen and workers).

There are various insects which mimic bumble bees. The bumble bee moth is the forum favorite, I'm assuming. A couple flies are the most convincing mimics, like Laphria thoracica.


Here is a link that might be useful: Q: Bumble/Carpenter Bees or flies? A: They are flies

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 7:52PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

This guy is the most plentiful in my garden other than the honey bees:

What kind is it?

Then I have this kind:

And this kind which I believe is the one in the very first picture above as well:

And then of course the honey bee:

All of these were taken this evening in about a five minute span!


    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 9:27PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

All the black and yellow bees in this thread are not bumble bees and are most likely carpenter bees.

The article I linked mentioned 96% population drop and 87% less geographic coverage. The chance of you seeing a bumble bee these days is very slim except for certain pockets of the country.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 11:52PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Should have done this earlier. The following 2 web pages show some good up close shots of a bumble bee and a carpenter bee that look very much alike. You can see the abdomen on the carpenter bee does not have much hair on it. The bumble bee's abdomen is fuzzier and has a band of yellow at the top.

Common Eastern Bumble Bee:

Eastern Carpenter Bee:

A listing of all their bumble bee pages is here:

I mentioned the yellow bumble bee earlier. Bug Guide refers to it as the golden northern bumble bee. Binomial name is Bombus fervidus.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 1:56AM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

I was thinking that the Bombus impatiens looks very similar to one of my bees but you think not?

Here is a link that might be useful: Bombus impatiens

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 9:13AM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

On Terry's July 30th picture:
The abdomen in the pic is shiny. Carpenter bees have shiny abdomens. The black part of a bumble bee abdomen is not shiny. A bumble bee abdomen is fuzzy while a carpenter bee abdomen is not. Hence why one is shiny and one is not.

On Laura's first pic from July 30th:
This is the only one I'm not sure about. Carpenter bees can have very "furry" thoraxes. From some angles, it can appear that the yellow thorax hair is coming from the top of the abdomen when it is not. Any chance you can crop the pic and post a higher resolution version of the just the bee? Photobucket reduces the resolution when you upload, so if you start with a cropped version, the Photobucket version of that should have more detail of the bee.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 1:32PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

I will try to take a better picture. I attempted to crop this one and it's not a very good quality to crop and zoom - this type of bee rarely sits still, moving constantly from flower to flower making it difficult to focus.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 10:05PM
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Fascinating discussion. Okay, two summers ago I had a nest in the ground of what I assumed were bumble bees. Definately not yellow jackets. These were half the size of carpenter bees, in a group, and in the ground. And earlier this summer I saw, what I thought was a HUGE bee with a red stripe. I got excited because I thought maybe it was a rusty patched bumble bee, but it was too large. Now, I am going to have to start learning bees. I may have to go visit the gardenweb bee site...

Here is a link that might be useful: Decline of the bumble bee

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:46AM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

The interesting thing about the articles on the decline of the bumble bee is that only 8 species were studied (and I have read we have approximately 50 species in North America.) Also the article states that only 4 of the 8 species studied showed the marked decrease. So... I'm not so sure this article convinces me that bumble bees are so rare that it's impossible for them to be in my garden. Just sayin'...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:22PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH


The full study can be seen here:

They studied 4 bumblebees that were thought to be in decline:
B. occidentalis
B. pensylvanicus
B. affinis
B. terricola

And they studied 4 bumblebees that were thought to have stable populations:
B. vosnesenskii
B. bifarius
B. bimaculatus.
B. impatiens

So the four species that did not show declines were not expected to show declines.

Another research paper:
Decline and Conservation of Bumble Bees
by D. Goulson, G.C. Lye, and B. Darvill

Annual Review of Entomology. 2008. 53:191-208

Article mentions the same four declining bumbles above but also adds:
B. franklini
B. sonorus
B. ashtoni

Another research paper:
Decline of bumble bees (Bombus) in the North American Midwest
by Jennifer C. Grixtia, Lisa T. Wonga, Sydney A. Cameronb,and Colin Favreta

Biological Conservation. Volume 142, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 75-84

This study looked at bumble bees in Illinois. Historically, there were 16 different bumble bee species in Illinois. The study found that four were now gone. Four other species were still there but their range had decreased.

I could not find any studies on Oklahoma bumble bees.

Based on the fact that I have not seen a bumble bee in years, plus the attention grabbing headlines of news articles, I really thought the chance of you seeing a bumble bee was about zip. But after spending a few hours reading research on the subject, I now know that North American bumble bees still exist. You just have to live where the stable bumble bee populations live. Unfortunately, I do not live in one of those areas.

Having said that, you still need some yellow on the abdomen for it to be a bumble bee.

Here is a link that might be useful: Now this is an Oklahoma bumble bee

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:38PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

This is another study I read that I meant to include because it has a useful population chart that includes 14 bumble bee species:

Evidence for decline in eastern North American bumblebees(Hymenoptera: Apidae), with special focus on Bombus affinis Cresson
by Sheila R Colla and Laurence Packer

Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 17, Issue 6 (June 2008), p. 1379-1391
DOI: 10.1007/s10531-008-9340-5

Bumblebees (Bombus spp.) have been declining rapidly in many temperate regions of the Old World. Despite their ecological and economic importance as pollinators, North American bumblebees have not been extensively surveyed and their conservation status is largely unknown. In this study, two approaches were used to determine whether bumblebees in that region were in decline spatially and temporally. First, surveys performed in 2004-2006 in southern Ontario were compared to surveys from 1971 to 1973 in the same sites to look at changes in community composition, in one of the most bumblebee diverse areas of eastern North America. Second, the extent of range decline for a focal species (Bombus affinis Cresson) was estimated by surveying 43 sites throughout its known native range in eastern Canada and the United States. Our study documents an impoverishment of the bumblebee community in southern Ontario over the past 35 years. Bombus affinis in particular was found to have declined drastically in abundance not only in southern Ontario but throughout its native range. The loss of any bumblebee species may result in cascading impacts on native fauna and flora and reduce agricultural production. Implications for the conservation of this important group of pollinators are discussed.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:34PM
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