Have you noticed that there are fewer bees around now? It is getting to that time of year when they start to die and only the queen bumblebees will dig holes and hibernate over the winter. I was surprised to see three Common Eastern Bumble Bees together at the weekend. I read how you can sometimes see them mating at this time of the year. The queen is bigger than the males, so I wondered if this was a queen with a male either side, but those helpful guys are bugguide.net tell me that both bees on the left are male bees. The one on the right might be a worker bee, but none of them are queen bees.
It is really important to be vigilant when digging at this time of the year. If you see any holes in the ground, (there are lots at the cottage and even some in my backyard at home), then they might have a queen bumble bee tucked up for the winter inside. She needs all her reserves to keep herself alive, so disturbing her and depleting those reserves is not good.
I also noticed that the bees are less responsive than usual and didn’t seem bothered by my getting close to photograph them. The two either side of the middle bee looked especially lifeless, which they are, given that they will soon die. Only the queen bees go through the winter to start a new colony next year.