Bombus ternarius is a member of the group Bombini. Latin always adds some depth to the subject. But we are not discussing a new band. Our subject is a bumble bee. Now, a bumble bee announcement: Central North Dakota has this spring’s first Tri Colored Bumble bees. My own eyes witnessed one in the photos.
For you “so what” skeptics, yes this is significant. Look at the photo. If she was not so small you could bow to the queen. This is a queen. She has just emerged from her winter nest of more than 5 ½ months. At the time of the photos, she was the only bumble bee in the area. This is the first wow!
The 2nd wow: in her body are the eggs that will make the next generation of Tri-colored bumble bees for this area. Her eggs over wintered in her body-frozen.
3rd wow: She is small between 17 and 19 mm long, males and workers are between 8 and 13. A penny is about 17 mm. Yet, she is a big bee.
Ternarius refers to its three colors yellow, black and orange/red. Tri-colored bumble bees are quite common. They occur from the Yukon to Nova Scotia and are wide-spread in the United States. Don’t let the word common end your amazement.
Yes, wow is too plain-we’ll use astounding.
4th – a worker Tri-colored bumble bee weighs 5 hundredths of a gram. Without exaggeration, we can say it is ultralight…astounding is better.
Tri-colored worker bees may fly up to 1/3 to 1 mile to find pollen to feed the colony the queen produces. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees do not make large quantities of honey. Since they feed the larval bumble bees pollen, the bumble bee is an exceptional pollinator. While cold-blooded they warm up faster, with fuzzy bodies they begin their day earlier than the honey bee, so they accomplish more pollination.
Questions for us:
- How does the Tri-colored bumble bee fly in a wind? It is so light and its wings so small.
- Why does it have three colors-most bumble bees have two.
- How is this queen bee able to survive? There were no noticeable sources of pollen-no flowers at the time of the photos. How did it survive winter-frozen?
- Why is this queen bee so shiny? Why the shiny black wings and feet?
- Do you see the dots between the eyes? One photo shows the ocelli- primitive eyes between the large shiny compound eyes. Why ocelli?
This bee is beautiful. But not when she landed on our granddaughter’s nose. Perhaps it was the sugar from the frozen yogurt on her face. I heard the scream. It was later I found out this bee thought our granddaughter was food.
One more thing. This bee is no accident, no chance organization of life. She flies-in strong wind. She knows where the pollen is. She survives being frozen for months. She pollinates-even when it’s too cold for honey bees. She does things impossible for humans, even impossible for other types of bees. Our lives are dependent on her survival.
This is the thing: she is a miracle. Let’s give credit to its Inventor. Yes, this bee was “invented.” No human eye saw it. This bee was invented before human eyes were. We can substitute created for invented. In this case the Inventor knows everything and has all the power. This Inventor knows exactly how to make a large bodied insect like the Tri-colored bumble bee fly. This Inventor is the Creator of the universe, his name is Jesus.
John the Baptist explained it best in the Bible, John 1:1-3, he said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Through Jesus, all things were made. Even my favorite bumble bee the Tri-colored bumble bee was made by Jesus.
Jesus knows the answers to all of my questions, and all of yours. He gave perfect attention and wisdom to the creation of the Tri-colored bumble bee and perfect attention, perfect wisdom, to making you and me. His “inventions” shine with perfection. His love never fails.