Bedtime for Bumble Bees on Mule’s Ears

Bumble bees blowing in an evening breeze on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia).

Male bumble bees do not have pollen baskets because they don’t help provision the nest as female queens and female worker bees do. Male bumble bees are only responsible for feeding themselves, pollinating flowers as they go. Male bumble bees do not return to the nest at all after the larval stage. Instead, male bumble bees sleep in, on, or under the flowers that they forage on for food. In the early evening, as the sun is beginning to wane and the day cools down, male bumble bees will pick a flower to sleep on, then they will forage on the flower until dark, positioning themselves in a protected place for the night.

Bumble bees on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) in the early morning, after spending the night on and underneath the flower, before beginning their day of pollination services for many native plants.

When morning comes and the temperature is still cool, male bumble bees can immediately drink nectar to increase their metabolism and warm up before the sun comes out and they begin foraging.

Mule’s ears is a widespread plant in the Klamath-Siskiyou. It is flowering now in many plant communities, including ponderosa pine forest, foothill woodland, chaparral, and valley grassland. You will often find a diversity of pollinator species enjoying the floral resources that mule’s ears provides.

 

 

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