Project 52 No 19 – bumbling accidental tourists?

9 02 2011

Ecogirl here. I am in Bariloche, which is in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Patagonia, Argentina. I’m participating in a research collaboration looking at metal biogeochemistry within the various lakes throughout the region. A few days ago, I  stretched my legs around the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica campus, and happened across a field of flowers with bumblebees buzzing around.  Without a macro lens, I was not able to get close to the bees, but I did get some interesting shots.

This little bumblebee, which I figure to be a Bombus ruderatus, was perched on the very edge of a thistle flower, Carduus nutans.  It seemed to be pausing just for a moment as if thinking ‘where next?’ before flying off.   To quote Cosmoboy, the bee’s pose gives “… the feeling of adventure created by the tension between the foreground and background”. 

Nahuel Huapi National Park bumblebee & thistle

Natural history note: B. ruderatus, along with its cousin B. terrestris, are actually European non-native species which likely migrated from nearby Chile where they were introduced to help to pollinate crops.  I see both white-tipped Bombus species everywhere in the park, so obviously both have been very successful invaders.  The thistle is another invasive species, and there is concern that the bumblebees are cross-transporting pollen between this species and the very beautiful  native amancay Alstroemeria aurea flowers, thereby reducing the success of this plant. Fortunately, I see yellow amancay blooms everywhere in the shade… so far, so good.    So while I am very fortunate to be here at a time when so many native flowers are in full bloom, the balance of the Park ecosystem is still changing in many ways which are hard to predict.  

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