For those patient readers who have seen me lament and sympathized for the apparent (at least partial) demise of our bumblebees this spring and summer, this one's for you! They were back today, bigger, busier and better than ever! With impeccable timing, I might add, since I was taking these pictures to do a follow up on a great post and conversation Gail had going on Clay and Limestone the other day. The putative subject here, of course, is Monarda didyma, v. 'Bluestocking' or in Gail's case, 'Marshall's Delight.' To my eye they are virtually identical though there must be some be some slight variation, but hey, I don't buy many plants for their pedigrees (there are some exceptions, of course)! I plant them for their beauty and potential to help feed the garden denizens, especially the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and whichever Monarda this may be, I care little.
In the first shot, we see a more 'head on approach' to work that this bee has adopted for tackling this angle of the bloom. It might be the same bee in the following shot, or maybe not, but there were so many working the flowers, that I put the camera in continuous shooting mode and fired away. I think I took well over a hundred shots, most of which have a bee in them somewhere, though sometimes hidden. It took us a while to comb through them all to select what we thought were the top four standout shots. And there were a great many other excellent shots as well, (for various reasons), but these rose to the top. I hope you agree ...
Here, our friend is treating us to a prime shot of his backside, but wow, check out those wings! In this and some other shots I got, I could see really clearly to what extent the color of the flower around the bee influences our perception of the color of his wings. I'd love to get a comparable shot against the red Monarda to see what that would be like, but today, our friends the bumblebees were really most interested in the purple, as the red has already been blooming a couple of weeks, and is probably bargain basement scrounging for these guys at this point. This 'Blue Stocking' only started blooming this past week, so is relatively fresh I suppose. But given the number of visitors it gets every day, there must still be a lot of the good stuff there for the butterflies (who were in abundance earlier, but wouldn't sit still for posing), and of course, the bumblebees. The hummingbirds, alas, were not to be seen today, but these shots were taken in very late afternoon sun ....
This shot is mostly about bee butt, because he's buried his head so deeply into the flower, but you have to admit, he does give an attractive view of his backside, eh? Call me weird, but I love getting shots of bees in such 'compromising' positions, and frankly, sometimes that's the only way I can get them successfully! But I guess it's true, if one loves bees, one also has to love bee butts, they're just part of the overall package, hehe.
And finally, though this might not really be the best of the best, I really like this shot for the lighting and glow it puts off, and though the bee may not be in perfect focus (the wings were really going there!), I think it at least constitutes a true 'impromptu' shot of the bee at work. For me at least, the intense juxtaposition of the red and purple glows made this an attractive shot, despite its faults.
Though today was a superbly perfect early summer day (especially for July!), I didn't manage to get all I wanted to accomplish done, and in fact very little other than household work and laundry (it was a great day to hang out the sheets on the line and I did). Thanks to all the humidity we've had this past week, my arthritic hips and knees just weren't in the mood for a workout, so completing the weeding and planting of the front bed has been delayed yet again for a few days. Fortunately, we're down to the last few plants and as long as they're well watered (they are), they can go in any time soon. I was somewhat disappointed in myself, but there are those days when I know that exceeding my limits will pay no dividends, and today was one of those days. But as you can see, I spent considerable quality time among my plant and insect friends, tending to them, watering and a bit of weeding, but not too much. I also got some wonderful shots of shadows on the house and the pure blue, unfettered sky we had today, and we both enjoyed grilling our dinner outside, because the mosquitoes have given us at least a brief respite! We still plan on spraying for them as soon as Fernymoss gets the yard mowed again ... no chances of rain until at least Friday according to Weather Underground. Who needs local TV for weather? They cop it all from this site and NWS sites anyway ... why wait through commercials for the middleman?
And a special salute to all my French friends, on this, Le quatorze juillet! I think we'll have set off a rocket or two in honor of the French ... After all, they were pretty damned important in sustaining the American Experiment from the start, let's not forget that. Besides, they have over 400 varieties of cheese (mostly delicious) and some of the best wines in the world. I salute them now, as I do every year, with undying affection (yeah, despite the inevitable 'quirks,' lol).
Oh, and happy birthday Aaron!! (You know who you are, if you happen to read this!) You've got a bottle rocket with your name on it coming tonight!