Bombus:Humble, Bumble and Bees

When last home I was exploring the old potting shed in my father’s garden. It has lain largely undisturbed, for years, wreathed in hanging spiders webs.

“Exploring” is not really the correct word, as all I do is go in, find the spade, hoe, fork etc I need and hastily retreat before being overcome by my spidery fears. However on a window sill I did see a little dead Bumble Bee. Bees are about the limit of my “dead thing” collecting and I do like to draw them so I put it in a small box and it came back to the USA with me.

I found it again while unpacking, it was a bit worse for wear but OK for a study or two. This I think is Bombus terrestris, the buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee. I liked this definition from Collins Discovery.
“Bumblebee: any large hairy social bee of the genus Bombus”

Large, hairy and completely delightful. Much loved but endangered, see the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust for what you can do to help.
Called Humble Bees too, not as I thought for the bowing, inclined aspect of their head but because of the noise they make. R W Emerson wrote a rather odd early poem in praise of the Humblebee, here is a snippet.

Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon;

Epicurean of June;


Regarding sailing and swimming, the aerodynamics of the bumble bee have been called into question, but as successful business woman Mary Kay Ash said;

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” ..

a good motivational quote for a Monday. You can read about this incorrect theory and perhaps how it came about at

And see a lovely slow motion, in flight, bumble bee doing very nicely, here on YouTube.I made these sketches a couple of weeks ago just before starting the printmaking course. This coming week, the bee in print and much more about bees in general.


pencil bee

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  1. Your work is always amazingly detailed. Love the bees. Thanks for posting these beautiful drawings.


  2. Jen, thankyou so much . I am glad you like the little bee… there are more ..lots more.. to come!

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