Bombazine black

Bombazine was a silky twill invariably dyed black and worn as mourning clothes in Victorian times and beyond. I think of this when I see Bombus bees aka bumbles, with their black patent bodies striped with white and citrus in various patterns.

Often its only in death that we get to see the bumblebee in a detailed close-up. The workers only live 2-6 weeks and when we see them seemingly drunk in flowers they are usually at the end of their working days. Only if we find significant numbers all around should we contact the UK’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme

Joining the weekly prompt photo challenge: Black

12 Comments on “Bombazine black

  1. I’ve learned a lot this morning. I too had not heard of Bombazine and I didn’t realise the life of the bumble bee was so short. I had assumed it was a little longer such as late Spring through to Autumn. Thank you Laura 🙂

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  2. That’s a really short life span! I love photographing bees, but not seen many in my garden yet this year, Never thought to try a black and white image, but these work beautifully.

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    • thanks Jude – Did not consider B&W at first because its quite a colourful bee but it worked better in monochrome
      p.s. Have a Hebe pinguifolia in flower which is a big draw for the bees

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  3. I remember reading about someone wearing bombazine dyed black in a novel but never got around to looking it up. Thank you for the lesson in that and about the short life of a bumblebee. Now I know why ours disappear so quickly (or what seems quickly to me). The details in your photos are amazing. I love the lacy wings, something I’d never be able to see as they flit about.

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  4. you can just about see the smaller of the paired wings – at 130-240 wing beats per second they are hard to see when in flight! As the summer develops bumblebee nests get bigger so you should be seeing more not less – it is a veritable production line of workers and some drones

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  5. Great close-ups! And for once a word I’d heard before “bombazine” – read a description of a Victorian dress recently and looked up the word 🙂

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    • I always think of Under Milkwood opening:
      “Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, “

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