Sunday, September 21, 2008

African Blue Basil

As was the case last year, our African Blue Basil plant is attracting a crazy number of bees again this summer. Unlike last year, though, we haven't seen a whole lot of honey bees. We've mostly had bumblebees this year, and most of the summer it's been the really big ones. At any given time there are at least half a dozen on the one plant. For a week or so, we also saw some smaller bumblebees, about 1/2 the size of the current residents. I'm not sure if they're a different species or if they're a younger version of the big ones.

UPDATE: I've been looking all over the web trying to figure out what kind of bumblebees we have, and just figured out they're not bumblebees at all: they're carpenter bees. Bumblebees have fuzzy butts, while carpenter bees have a smooth and hairless back-end, like my photo. I knew we had carpenter bees by our deck this spring, but I didn't put two and two together. The web pages I've found indicate that the carpenter bee is a good pollinator, and they do bore into wood as their name suggests. However, they don't usually do serious damage unless generations of them stick around the same location.

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