Oakes Quarry Preserve in northeastern Greene County, Ohio. This site is the northernmost holding of the conservation tour de force known as the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association.
I've had opportunity to make brief visits to the site three times this summer, all for different objectives. The quarry was originally opened in the 1920's, and covers about 190 acres. In making lemonade from limestone, Nature has populated the aged quarry with lots of interesting things, not the least of which are birds. While the habitat above may look non-diverse, its surprising how many birds occupy the site. Prairie Warbler, Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Field Sparrow, Belted Kingfisher, Killdeer, Eastern Towhee, and of course the quarry's most famous residents, Lark Sparrows.
Viper's Bugloss is indigenous to Eurasia, and is sometimes also known by the colorful names of Blue Devil or Blueweed. The "viper" part of the typically used name comes from the shape of the bony nutlets (fruit), which are said to resemble a serpent's head.
I've long been fascinated with "weeds". While the definition of weed is not hard and fast, it might be summed as "a weed is in the eye of the beholder". To me, the definition should be a bit more exacting than that. A weed is a plant originally not native to the area in which it now occurs (using European settlement as the benchmark for this part of the world).
Weeds can be placed in two broad categories: the innocuous curiosities, and the invasive scourges. Kudzu, bush honeysuckles, Purple Loosestrife, and Garlic Mustard clearly fit the latter category. But the vast majority of weeds are not particularly invasive, don't overrun native plant communities, and often only flourish in heavily altered habitats, such as this quarry. The Viper's Bugloss is a good example of an innocuous curiosity, at least insofar as I am aware.
NOTE: "Bumblebee" is often written as two separate words: "Bumble bee". However, given the widespread awareness of these insects and the frequent usage of the name in either aforementioned form, I think it is better to adopt the compound word "bumblebee." These valuable insects warrant their own compound name, and such treatment keeps with a growing trend towards commonsense adoption of compound words.
For this image, I had the camera prefocused - but handheld - on the bugloss flower. When the bumblebee came near, I tripped the shutter. A bit of luck, though, and most such shots would be throwaways. I used the remarkably high resolution Canon 5DS-R with the Canon 100mm L macro lens and twin lite flash units. Settings were f/11, 1/200 of a second (camera's sync speed), and ISO 100.
While I think the bumblebees in these photos may be Two-spotted Bumblebees, Bombus bimaculatus, I am by no means certain and would appreciate a definitive identification by someone who knows better. There are at least 18 species of bumblebees in the genus Bombus recorded from Ohio, and I find most of them maddeningly similar.
If you would like to learn more about bumblebees, and try to identify those that you see, there is a free publication, the Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States. It contains a wealth of information about these interesting and valuable insects, and can be had for free RIGHT HERE.