Bumble Bees at Bodega Bay: Seeing Double

What's better than seeing a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging on an neon pink ice plant at Bodega Bay?

Seeing two bumble bees on the same flower.

That's what we observed on a recent trip to Doran Regional Park, Bodega Bay, Sonoma County. It was bumble bee heaven. While conservationists are removing ice plant in one area of the park, bumble bees are foraging on the flowers in another area.

B. vosnesenskii is a native. The ice plant, Carpobrotus edulis, is not. It's from South Africa. Conservationists are removing the invasive ice plant "to allow native, endangered plants to repopulate the area and wildlife to thrive."

But meanwhile, this Bombus keeps buzzing and foraging. (Bombus is derived from a Latin word meaning "buzzing.")

Bumble bees are important pollinators (think "buzz pollination" on tomatoes) but we haven't seen them much around Solano and Yolo counties this year.

Sonoma County, yes! Bodega Bay seems to be an oasis. 

And speaking of bumble bees, the Bohart Museum of Entomology sponsors an annual Robbin Thorp Memorial First-Bumble-Bee-of-the-Year Contest to see who can find the first bumble bee of the year in the two-county area of Yolo and Solano.The first to photograph one and email to the Bohart Museum wins. This year UC Davis doctoral candidate Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, photographed B. melanopygus with her cell phone cameraand horticulturist Ellen Zagory, retired director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, photographed B. vosnesenskii with her Sony camera.

Coincidentally, they each took their photos at exactly 2:30 p.m., Jan. 1 in the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden as the bees foraged on manzanita.

They represented "a double," too--a double win.