Beekeepers Give Home to Rare American Bumblebee Colony

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Beekeepers Give Home to Rare American Bumblebee Colony

The American bumblebee may sound like something you’d see in your backyard, but you are more likely seeing the common eastern bumblebee. We get to know the less common species and see what they can teach us about all of the bees that pollinate our favorite flowers.

One night in August, as he was getting ready to go bed, Dr. Lee Bushong received a phone call. On the line was Worrel Diedrick, an entomology Ph.D student at Florida A&M University, and Lee’s beekeeping partner. A woman had called the extension office with a bee issue. It seemed that bumblebees had formed a colony in one of her bird gourds. While she didn’t want them on her property, she did want these useful pollinators to find a good home. Lee was intrigued.

They placed the gourd in a butterfly tent and moved it to Lee’s house, where I met with them a week later. Lee, a professor of forensics at FAMU, has taken three quarters of an acre in his yard and planted native pollinator plants. He also raises honeybees, which we visited with as well. This would make a good home for what turned out to be an increasingly rare species of bee.

A man standing next to a forest
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Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for television at WFSU Public Media, covering outdoors and ecology. After years of producing the music program OutLoud, Rob found himself in a salt marsh with a camera, and found a new professional calling as well. That project, the National Science Foundation funded "In the Grass, On the Reef," spawned the award-winning WFSU Ecology Blog. Now in its tenth year, the Ecology Blog recently wrapped its most ambitious endeavor, the EcoCitizen Project.

Rob is married with two young sons, who make a pretty fantastic adventure squad.