My office window looks out onto the museum’s backyard and the pollinator gardens that grow there in tousled abundance. Wildflower season peaked weeks ago, but gems of color still glint in the afternoon sunshine. Once-fragrant bergamot has dried into tufty brown seed heads, but the golden petals of black-eyed susans and lance-leaved coreopsis contrast nicely with the frilly purple petals of asters. Those complementary colors are more beautiful — and more attractive to bees — than either on their own.
And despite chilly nights and damp mornings, there are still bees. I’m watching them fly busily on their rounds as I write this, actually. We’re all reveling in the afternoon sunshine. Earlier this morning, I shuffled through damp grass to see how they were doing, and to observe the insects when they were too cold to zoom away. Sure enough, I found a few fuzzy bumblebees clinging to the tufts of pollen-coated anthers like sleepy toddlers. These bees aren’t young’uns, though; they are nearing the ends of their lives.