wild bees and native bees

Pollen tramps I have known: Isabella

When I began my search for the trampiest ladies in town, the bees sent me to a stand of thistle adjacent to the appaloosa club. The thistle, standing prickly and purple in the morning sun, was asparkle with snow-white pollen—a rich spread for butterflies, beetles, and bees.

It was on one of those spiky flowers that I met Isabella. At first, I thought she was a little bumble bee, but now I’m not so sure. The surfeit of pollen was concealing her true colors, and what I thought was a white face may have been only crumbs from a hastily gathered cache of pollen or nectar.

Isabella frolicked in the thistles, diving head first into the petals, tail in the air, then resurfacing briefly only to dive again. I see no pollen baskets which makes be think she may be a he out for a morning sip of nectar. Or the bee may be another species altogether . . . I simply don’t know. In any case, s/he is my first candidate for pollen tramp of the year, basking in messiness like a kid with a popsicle.


Native bee on thistle in the Capital State Forest.


  • Rusty,

    Your left-hand column of flower species doesn’t mention Oenothera, evening primrose. They’re a wildflower here, and for some reason this summer, they are thick by the roadsides. Any idea of the pollen value? I can’t stop to bee-watch because anytime I’m driving, it’s minimum 5 combined errands.

    What ever happened with the “Pollen Tramp” T-shirt?


    • Nancy,

      I can add the evening primrose, thanks, but I have no idea of the pollen value.

      I’m thinking of a contest for the T-shirt. I can have a bunch made if you think people will buy them. I would sell them at cost plus shipping.

    • SDB,

      You can e-mail me the photo: rusty@honeybeesuite.com and I will post it. Tell me how you want your name and I will put a copyright notice on it. If I get enough nominations, we can vote on the winner. Do you think the winner should go on a t-shirt? Thinking about it . . .

    • Sorry, I’m just plain behind. I have soooo much stuff to post and it’s all backed up. Too much to do before winter, etc. I keep telling myself that once the rainy season starts, I’ll have plenty of time to catch up. But, sure enough, the rainy season is already two or three weeks behind. Wouldn’t ya know it? And today it is so beautiful I’m working outside with these flying ant things all over the place . . .

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