Bumble Bee: Bombus

Picture of bumble bee pollinating flower

Description Of Bumblebees

The yellow and black striped pattern on bumblebees is distinctive. Some species are also orange or reddish in color. Their thoraxes have short, pale yellow hairs, and their heads, abdomens, and legs have black coats.

Corbicula (pollen baskets) are found on the hind tibiae of females. Some species’ males and females have different facial colors, allowing them to be distinguished.

Bumblebee species have different tongue lengths. Eastern carpenter bees can be mistaken for members of this genus. The pubescence on the dorsum distinguishes bumble bees from eastern carpenter bees. 1Go To Source animaldiversity.org -“Bombus”

Bumblebee Species

There are 260 species of Bombus, commonly known as bumblebees, in the world. There are 43 species in the west, 24 in the east, and 18 in the south of North America.

Bumblebee Behavior

Photo of bumble bee on flower

Bumblebees are colony-dwelling social insects. Drones, the queen, and worker bees all have specific roles in the colony’s support. Hundreds of eggs are laid by the queen bee. The primary function of male drones is to be prepared to fertilize a receptive queen. Worker bees perform all of the tasks required to run and maintain the hive.

Bumblebees carrying pollen and nectar back to the nest carry about a quarter of their body weight in pollen and nectar. Some bumblebees, on the other hand, return carrying up to 75% of their body weight.

While foraging bumblebees will visit the same patch of flowers as other bumblebees, they will avoid flowers that other bumblebees have recently visited. Bumblebees will scent mark the flowers, signaling to others that the nectar has been depleted. A gland produces the scent in the tarsus of the bumblebee. Scent marking cuts down on the amount of time spent probing flowers for nectar.

Life Cycle Of Bumblebees

In the Spring, Queens emerge in mid-to-late April and early May, after overwintering. Queens are now mostly solitary, establishing a nest and supplying it with pollen and nectar.

The first workers emerge from their silken summer cocoons 2-3 weeks after the eggs are laid and take over the responsibilities of searching for food, caring for the brood, and defending the nest. The queen will stay inside the colony from now on, laying eggs and caring for the brood. The nest is incubated at a constant temperature (30°C), even when the outside weather is much colder.

Photograph of black bumblebee

In Fall, colonies are typically at their largest, with populations ranging from 30 to 400 people (depending on the species). The queen will start to lay unfertilized eggs, which will develop into male drones, and the workers start to rear fertilized eggs into new queens, known as gynes. Drones and gynes leave the nest to mate and leave the nest. At this point, worker production has typically ceased, and the workers and founding queen have all died out, leaving only the newly mated gynes.

During the Winter, Mated gynes will store fat reserves and dig into loose soils and thatch to find a suitable overwintering location. To protect their organs and cells from freezing, gynes enter diapause by synthesizing alcohol molecules (similar to antifreeze). A typical slumber lasts between 6 and 9 months. 2 Go To Source wisconsinbumblebees.entomology.wisc.edu -“Life Cycle and Biology”

Habitat Of Bumblebees

Bumblebees usually build their nests underground in holes dug by larger animals, but some build theirs above ground in abandoned bird nests, grass tufts, or cavities such as hollow logs or spaces beneath rocks. They may also use compost piles or unoccupied birdhouses in gardens. 3 Go To Source nwf.org -“5 Facts About Bumble Bees—and How To Help Them”

Bumblebee Diet

Nectar, pollen, and honey make up the majority of a bumblebee’s diet. These substances contain all of the necessary proteins and sugars for a bee’s healthy diet.

When bumblebees are foraging on flowers, they collect pollen. It’s not a liquid but rather a very fine, smooth powder produced by male flowers. A small amount of pollen is collected by the bumblebee, which then transports it to another plant, usually a female. She then disperses some of the pollen, fertilizing the female plant in the process. The bumblebee will return to the nest with whatever she didn’t leave on the flower.

Nectar is a sweet liquid that contains a lot of sugar. Plants in glands called nectaries produce nectar. These can be found inside the flowers, attracting pollinating animals and insects or the plant’s leaves or stem. Nectar is high in sugar and is required by bees to produce honey. To get to the liquid, the bumblebee sticks her long tongue into the flower.

Predators Of The Bumblebee

Image of bumblebee worker extracting nectar

  • Wasps
  • Spiders
  • Birds
  • Skunks
  • Bears
  • Hive Beetles
  • Other Small-Sized Mammals

Dangers Of Bumblebees Hives

Bumblebees are not as aggressive as hornets and yellowjackets and are less likely to sting. Males are unable to sting, and females only sting when threatened. Their stings, on the other hand, are painful and can be dangerous to allergy sufferers. Furthermore, unlike honeybees, bumblebees can sting multiple times.

Bumblebee Removal & Relocation

If you discover a nest near your home that poses no threat to you or your family, the best thing to do not interact with it. Avoid poking or spraying the nest with chemicals, as all you will accomplish is irritating the hive.

If you have curious children, pets or simply don’t want to worry about being stung, you should make a call to a bee removal professional. They’ll be able to either treat or relocate the nest. It’s not a good idea to remove nests on your own, especially since different types of nests require different removal methods.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Hauze, D. 2020. “Bombus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 16, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Bombus/
  2. “Life Cycle and Biology.” Bumble Bees of Wisconsin, University Of Wisconsin, wisconsinbumblebees.entomology.wisc.edu/about-bumble-bees/life-cycle-and-development. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
  3. National Wildlife Federation. “5 Facts About Bumble Bees—and How To Help Them •.” The National Wildlife Federation Blog, 16 Aug. 2019, blog.nwf.org/2014/04/5-facts-about-bumble-bees-and-how-to-help-them/#:%7E:text=Most%20bumble%20bees%20nest%20underground,compost%20piles%20or%20unoccupied%20birdhouses.