I keep wondering where the bees are, and finally they are starting to show up — just a few bumble bees, as well as honeybees.
Bees seem to bury their heads in a flower, and you rarely get a glimpse of their long tongue that laps up the nectar.
Since bumblebees (and other bees, ants, and bats) are nectar dippers, the tips of their tongues are specialized mops with hairy fringes that can soak up a syrup of at least 52% sugar.
In contrast, suction sippers like butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds prefer a less viscous nectar of around 30%, in order for the mixture to flow well up the capillary tube “tongues” they insert into flowers. You can read more about this research here.
The bees still have a month or two to provision their nests and young before the weather turns cold again. But does a short summer mean fewer bees next year?