I’m very fond of your site. I love the beautiful photos your readers send in, and I love the way your writing both demystifies and celebrates our insect friends. I took this picture the other day in my garden. I was rather lazily weeding when I heard a very loud buzzing. This fellow (male? female?) was trying to collect from the columbine flowers, without much success since he was so big and heavy, and the flowers are on weak, nodding stems. I’m anthropomorphizing, but I swear the buzzing sounded grumpier and grumpier the more times he flopped off. I followed him (?) around with my camera for about five minutes before he stayed still long enough for me to get this pretty decent shot. I thought you might enjoy it, as well as confirm that this is indeed a bumble bee?
Des Plaines, IL
Thank you so much for your sweet letter. There is nothing wrong with a little anthromorphization. Fabre, one of the pioneering insect authors of the 19th Century, was a master of anthromorphization. Your columbines are quite lovely. It is one of our favorite flowers. We thought this was a Bumble Bee, but Eric Eaton set us straight: “the bumble bee is actually a female carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica.”