Spring is here and so are the bees! Let’s meet one of your friendly neighbors.
A bumblebee, also referred to as a bumble bee, bumble-bee, or humble-bee, is in the genus Bombus, within the family Apidae, one of the bee families, and is any of over 250 species.
As stated on the Xerces Society website:
Bumble bees are the only bees native to North America that are truly social. They live in colonies, have different divisions of labor or castes, and have overlapping generations, usually with multiple broods throughout the spring, summer, and fall. However, unlike the non-native, European honey bees, the bumble bee colony has an annual life cycle. At the end of the summer the foundress queen, her workers and male offspring will all die; only the newly emerged, fertilized queens (gynes) survive to hibernate through the winter. In the spring, she will found a new nest that eventually may grow, depending on the species and available resources, to 50 – 500 individuals.
Bumble bees need a cavity in which to build their nest. The queens are opportunists, looking for any suitably sized cavity. Sometimes this is above ground, such as in hollow trees, abandoned bird nests, rock walls, or under a tussock of grass, but they mostly nest underground. An abandoned rodent hole is a favorite, as this space is warm and already lined with fur.
Bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a single queen. The colonies are smaller than those of honeybees, growing to as few as 50 individuals in a nest. Bumblebees have round bodies covered in soft hair, making them appear and feel fuzzy.
Bumblebees feed on nectar, using their long hairy tongues to lap up the liquid, to add to the stores in the nest and pollen to feed their young. They forage using color and spatial relationships to identify flowers to feed from.
Bumblebees are agricultural pollinators and are not aggressive towards humans.
Bumblebees are important pollinators of plants in your backyard garden, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, and squash. They also love fruit blossoms from raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, as well as cherry, peach, and apple trees. They are the only known pollinators of potatoes worldwide!
If herbs are your thing, be sure and plant, bee balm, marjoram, oregano, fennel, borage, chives, rosemary, sage, hyssop, lemon balm, and thyme.
BE KIND TO YOUR NEIGHBORS
Bee animation: Stock Footage provided by patrimonio, from Pond5