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Want some fun facts about bumblebees?!
Bumblebees are among the most recognizable of all the bees. Their distinctive fuzzy black and yellow exterior instantly give them away.
In many parts of the world, bumblebees are the most common bee after honey bees. In other parts of the world, there are NO bumblebees (you’ll find out where in the list below)!
While they sometimes may be mistaken for carpenter bees, a slightly closer look will differentiate them.
They are very similar, but they act very differently. Bumblebees won’t chew into your house siding, for example.
They are very useful and important pollinators of all the plants we look to look at and eat from.
Fun Bumblebees Facts
1. The Bumblebee Sting
The female bumblebee can and will sting when threatened.
Bumblebees can sting multiple times, unlike a honeybee, because the stinger is smooth, and does not come away when used.
2. The Bumblebee Nest
Bumblebees are a type of ground bee, building their nest in the soil underground.
It is constructed with wax and pollen and ends up being the size of a small coconut. The bees insulate the nest with animal fur or other plant matter.
Bumblebees will also hibernate through the winter but you’ll see them out working on colder days than honeybees.
3. Bumblebee Colonies
Bumblebees live in small colonies, usually numbering between 50 and 400 bees.
This is tiny compared to honeybee colonies which can number in the multiple tens of thousands of bees.
Also, bumblebees don’t swarm like honeybees, something that often requires the attention of professional beekeepers.
4. The Bumblebee Queen
Like honeybees, bumblebees have a queen.
She starts the hive and raises up the first worker bees. She alone lays eggs and produces a hormone that stops other females in the nest from reproducing.
And, as with a queen honey bee lifespan, she lives longer than the rest of the hive.
5. Bumblebee Babies
Amazingly, the queen controls the sex of the eggs that she lays.
She can choose to lay unfertilized eggs, which will result in female offspring; or she can choose to fertilize eggs with stored sperm to create male offspring.
6. Male Bumblebees
The male bumblebee’s main purpose of existence is to mate with female bees.
They leave the nest as soon as they can fly and live short lives.
7. Bumblebee Honey
Unfortunately, you won’t be harvesting sweet clover honey from these Bumblebees.
Bumblebees do make their own type of honey, however, it is unsuitable for human consumption.
Bears, on the other hand, do eat bumblebee honey and will dig up a hive to get at it.
8. Bumblebee Speed
These bees are fairly fast, but they aren’t going to be breaking any records.
Bumblebee speed is between 3 – 4.5 meters per second. This works out to between 6.7 – 10.7 miles per hour.
9. Bumblebee Wings
Bumblebees are, of course, well known for the hum they create when flying. In fact, they were first called humblebees for this reason.
They have 4 wings that can beat approximately 200 times per second.
10. No Bumblebees In Australia
While not technically true, as there are bumblebees on the island of Tasmania, there are no bumblebees on the Australian mainland.
They are not wanted, and sightings should be reported to the appropriate Aussie authorities.
Where Do Bumblebees Nest?
One of the most commonly asked questions we get is ‘where do bumblebees live?’
They are in fact a type of bee that lives in the ground.
A few years ago I noticed a constant stream of bumblebees going in and out of a rock wall near my washing line. I observed them for a while and it became obvious there was a nest in the soil on the side of the wall.
This was before I learned about bumblebees being a type of ground bee, so it was very fascinating.
Bumblebees build their nests and raise their young underground.
They are a non-aggressive species of bee, so if they are not in your way, there’s no need to move them on. Their communities do not grow too large.
If you do need to get rid of a bumblebee nest, it’s best and easiest to simply put a bit of water down into the nest. There’s no need to poison them.
Put the garden hose into the entrance and turn the tap on gently.
The bees will find their way out. There are usually multiple entrances as well so they will escape and move on to build a new nest.
You may need to soak the nest multiple times before they get the picture, but rest assured, they will.
It’s much better to move them on than to poison them or anything like that. We don’t recommend the lethal methods of getting rid of bumblebees.
Please leave any more in the comments, we know there’s plenty more to be said.
You might also be interested to learn about Mason Bees OR how buckwheat honey is made!