There is a local Portland free magazine called Portland Outsider (which is awesome, by the way. it features articles on cooking, endurance fitness, healthy-balancy fitness, meat, cocktails, gardens…everything I adore) and they featured bees in the spring 2014 issue – focusing on bumble bees and what we can do to better understand and support them. They included a link to the Bumble Bee Watch website, a “a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees.”
Last year I observed a whole bunch of black, fuzzy, heavy, clumsy bumble bees taking nest in our outdoor wood bin. I felt honored to be able to provide space to this beautiful, important, species that is also in decline like the honey bees. The entire colony dies each year, folks. Only the queen survives, by drilling down into the ground and hibernating. And this year they are back! I’ve been able to identify at least two species (Bombus melanopygus and maybe Bombus caliginosus), thanks to the Bumble Bee Watch website. How exciting! As an urban gardener, I feel I play a big role in supporting the natural systems that keep the world going round, namely the pollinators that enable my fruits and veggies to provide my family with food.