Animal Poachery

Snail Bumblebee Frog

Ξ Poem Bumblebee Notes Song ♫
© 1985..2009 by Andreas Wittenstein. Some rights reserved. (CC)

bumbling, stumbles, tumbles, clumsily, fumbles, thumbles, lumbers, bungly, blundery: Due to their small wings, large body, and low density, bumblebees are easily buffeted by the wind, making them appear clumsy.

grumbling: When angry, bumblebees beat their wings faster, emitting a higher-pitched buzz.

he, his: Bumblebees (genus Bombus) are social insect species, with the queen laying dozens of eggs a day, an annual colony of sterile female worker bees collecting pollen and nectar, and males (drones) serving only to fertilize the queen. However, I wrote this poem for my older son Sebastian, a couple of months before he was born.

ho-hum, hee-hee, hum-drum, ho-ho, hum-de-dum, ha-ha: Bumblebees, like toxic ladybugs and fetid skunks, are relatively insouciant animals, relying on their stark advertising coloration to warn off potential predators.

jumbled eyes: The bumblebee, like most insects, has compound eyes consisting of hundreds of eyelets (ommatidia) arranged in a mostly hexagonal pattern. It also has three simple eyes (ocelli).

winglets wee: Tiny in comparison to her body, the bumblebee's two pairs of wings often look like a single pair when a row of hooks (hamuli) on the leading edge of the rear wings zips them to the trailing edge of the front wings. Early fixed-wing aeronautical studies of the bumblebee were unable to account for the bumblebee's ability to fly with such small wings.

cumbrous thighs: The bumblebee, like the honeybee, collects pollen on her thighs, both for food and to fertilize other flowers she subsequently visits. She stores the pollen in the feathery hairs of the pollen baskets on her upper leg (femur and tibia) segments. Fully laden, each thigh, especially on the rear legs, appears burdened with an overstuffed saddlebag, often adding up to as much as their body weight.

nimble knees: The agile lower leg (tarsus) segments of the bumblebee are lined with stiff combs and brushes that she uses to gather the pollen out her fur and stuff it into her pollen baskets.

rumbling: The bumblebee uses the powerful low-pitched rumble of her wings like the fabled trumpets of Jericho as a sonic weapon to quake the pollen off the anthers of the flowers she pollinates. The pollen is then attracted by the electrostatically charged fur covering most of her body.

rambles: Bumblebees are directed as much by scent as by sight, so just as scent-hounds often appear to run back and forth indecisively, foraging bumblebees often look disoriented, looping around on seemingly aimless paths as they trace the wafting aromas of nectar-bearing flowers, as well as the odors with which they themselves mark flowers they have visited.

bramble-weeds: Bumblebees are important pollinators of blackberries and other brambles and vines.

bulby bum: The bumblebee's bulbous abdomen houses the sting, the reproductive organs, and the digestive organs, including the honey crop, which can dilate to fill over half the abdomen as the bee gathers nectar to disgorge into honeycomb cells or feed to coworkers.

ringlets three: The abdomen of most bumblebee species is marked with highly contrasting yellow or orange bands, sometimes numbering three, warning potential predators of her memorable sting.

stinglet: Bumblebees are generally peaceful, but the female bumblebee will sting when she or her hive is seriously threatened. Unlike the barbed stinger of bees and yellow-jackets, the bumblebee's stinger is smooth, so she can sting multiple times.

humble: The name ‘bumblebee’ is alliteratively derived from ‘humblebee’, and in turn from ‘hummelbee’, referring not to humility but to the thrumming of her wings.

For more information on bumblebees, see the Bumblebee website of Laura Brodie Smith, who did her thesis on foraging preference in bumblebees.

For still more information on bumblebees, see the Wikipedia Bumblebee article.

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