Three Unusual Things: #2, Spider-Bee Fight

Our family went backpacking a few weeks ago at Horsetooth Mountain Park, and it turned out to be a memorable experience. We had three natural experiences that I had never encountered before.

On the second day of our trip, we headed up towards Horsetooth Rock on the Audra Culver trail. At one point (read: at many points), I was waiting for Nate to catch up. I saw a gigantic bumblebee attacking a flower at the side of the trail. I called the family over to see this gigantic bee. He was moving around a lot, and then Dorinna noticed that it looked like there were two bees there. Fighting? I had never seen two bumblebees interact like that before. Then I got a better look at the second bee.

Oh.

Turns out the bumblebee was caught in a spider web that extended out from under a dead log. And the spider? See for yourself:

It’s not a great picture, as the combatants were moving around quickly, and there is serious shutter lag with my point-and-shoot camera. The red hourglass on the swollen black abdomen is unmistakable- this was a Black Widow.

Surprisingly, the bee broke free of the web and flew off just after I took this picture. Some people have asked me if the bee, already bitten, was flying off to die. No. A Black Widow can send an adult human to the hospital. If one bit something bee-sized, death would be instantaneous. That was a very lucky bumblebee.

I was able to get off one more shot, albeit without the telltale red hourglass, before the spider crawled back under her log to await her next next victim.

Nate got a little scared when we explained what he was watching, and insisted we take a different trail down the mountain.