Wednesday, July 26, 2006



A bumblebee in downtown Portland. I feel I'm falling down on my blogging duties here, because I can't give you a latin name for either the bee or the flower pictured here. [But see the first user comment below.] I don't even know whether the bee is a native species or not. The info is probably out on the net somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it so far. I suppose I could just go, bumblebees are neato, the photo's pretty cool, and leave it at that, but that just isn't my way. I attached the slogan "Dig a little deeper" to this blog a while ago, so now I feel obligated. It can be a real burden sometimes.

We can be pretty sure it's not a Franklin's Bumblebee, Bombus franklini, which lives in a very small range in southern Oregon and northern California, and which has been suffering a rapid population decline in recent years. There's a bit more about this species at National Geographic, but no photos. Oregon State University has a photo here, but it's in a PDF created from a set of PowerPoint slides, so it's kind of inconvenient.

The flower I don't care about quite as much. It's in a concrete planter, in a highly non-natural setting, so I assume it's just whatever was on sale down at Home Depot, or wherever the city buys its decorative annuals in bulk.

Although neither site actually answered my questions, you'll find more fun with bumblebees at the UK's Natural History Museum, and at The University of Akron also has a good page about bees in general.

The sciences have dropped the ball here, and hidden the bumblebee's secrets somewhere deep in the net, beyond the reach of my formidable Google-fu. So let's switch gears, and seek out some poetry about bumblebees.

Anyone who posts original poems on the net is brave. Possibly foolhardy as well, but certainly very brave. I know I wouldn't have the guts to do it, even if I had anything to post, which I don't. I also realize I tend to become snarky and disagreeable when talking about... ok, when talking, period, basically. Which would be unreasonable in this case, and would beg the inevitable "Ok, let's see you write a poem and put it on the net." response, and like I said, that's not going to happen. Furthermore, of the many things that I am not, "poetry critic" is among the foremost, or hindmost, or however that works. (See what I mean?) So I'm simply going to present a few bumblebee poem links without comment, for your entertainment: here, here, here, here, and here.

The rules are different when an author has been dead for 90 years plus a week. He's not around to complain anymore, plus his work is in the public domain. So I present to you The Bumblebee, by the Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley. I'd never heard of the guy, but he was apparently rather famous at one time, in his native region. Although if his other poems are like this one, I can't imagine what the big fuss was all about. I'm no poetry critic, but even I can tell this is a steaming pile of mad cow's tripe. But feel free to disagree, if you like.

You better not fool with a Bumblebee!—
Ef you don't think they can sting—you'll see!
They're lazy to look at, an' kind o' go
Buzzin' an' bummin' aroun' so slow,
An' ac' so slouchy an' all fagged out,
Danglin' their legs as they drone about
The hollyhawks 'at they can't climb in
'Ithout ist a-tumble-un out ag'in!
Wunst I watched one climb clean 'way
In a jimson-blossom, I did, one day,—
An' I ist grabbed it — an' nen let go—
An' "Ooh-ooh! Honey! I told ye so!"
Says The Raggedy Man; an' he ist run
An' pullt out the stinger, an' don't laugh none,
An' says: "They has be'n folks, I guess,
'At thought I wuz predjudust, more er less,—
Yit I still muntain 'at a Bumblebee
Wears out his welcome too quick fer me!"

While I was Googling, I came across a good blog called One Good Bumblebee. Not actually about bumblebees, so I'm veering OT a little here, but this here's my blog, I'm the Decider, and I decide what's best, so I can go OT if I want to, neener, neener, neener. There are cats there sometimes, and the top post at the moment features a very large metal deer. So go see, if you're bored with all of this crap about bumblebees.

Updated: Here's a photo of a bumblebee visiting flowers at 1st & Arthur, only a few blocks from where I saw my bumblebee (Lovejoy Fountain Plaza). So it's possible this bee and my bee are from the same hive. Or maybe both photos are of the exact same bee... Whoa.... Cosmic, man....

1 comment :

Postman said...

The flower is a cultivated variety of Penstemon The bee ? A bit out of focus.

Here is a recent post of mine on the UK bumblebees

Identification, this might help

B. voanasenskei looks possible.

"The most common species of California Bombini,
B. vosnesenskii, edwardsii, and californicus, are
also the most widespread."

Hope it helps. Fascinating creatures.