Large and lumbering, black and yellow bumble bee adults are important pollinators of a variety of plants. Measuring
from 3/4 inch up to 1 inch in length, these fuzzy insects make a loud droning buzz as they fly somewhat awkwardly from flower to flower.
They are important pollinators.
Bumble bees nest in soil or leaf litter where a single queen lays 8 to 12 eggs in spring. Emerging workers are able to fly in very cool weather, making them a very valuable pollinator. Foraging
worker bees use long tongues to pollinate clovers and other flowers, collecting
pollen and nectar that they bring back to the hive to feed to the colony. Though
bumble bees make honey, they make only enough to feed the colony.
The bumble bee is often confused
with her distant cousin the honey bee. Unlike the honey bee, the humble
bumble is gentle and slow. As she trundles around the garden collecting pollen
and nectar, the bumblebee looks different than the streamlined
honeybee, who dashes about everywhere. Even the bumble bee's body shape is
different. The bumble is round and furry. There are actually three kinds of
bumble bees, the large Queen, the smaller imperfectly formed female worker bee
and the tiny male or drone bee. Only the Queen and the worker bees have a sting.
Important Facts To Know About
- Because they live in small
nests bumble bees never swarm - so you can encourage a nest or two in the
garden without fear of this happening.
- Bumble bees do not produce
enough honey for commercial use, just a few grams at a time to feed their
- Not all bumble bees have a
sting. Drones (smaller male bees that hatch in mid summer ) have no sting at
- A bumble bees biggest enemy by
far is a man armed with a pesticide spray. Like every other form of wildlife
they are under serious threat from the chemicals we pour on the land.
- Bumble bees are much less
aggressive than honey bees. Generally they will not attack a human at all,
unless their life is under threat. Don't wave your arms wildly in their
presence, stand quietly and once they smell you are not a flower with pollen
they will move gently away.
- Bumble bees do not lose their
sting and die if they use it, as a honey bee will.
- Encourage the bumble bee in
your garden or farm and she will repay your kindness by pollinating your
flowers, fruit and vegetables and giving you an excellent set on your
PANIC! DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!
drones hatch on mid Summer (see the section on life cycle) the sudden
increase in the number of bees frightens people who are nervous about
insects. But remember these drone bees have no sting and they won't swarm.