|Color||Bumble bees have black, hairy abdomens with yellow or white bands of color.|
|Size||Usually reach 3/4-1″ in length.|
|Appearance||Their oval body appears and feels fuzzy due to their “hairs” – called pile.|
Bumble bees harvest nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein) from flowering plants.
Habitat & Nests
Most bumble bees construct nests made of mud or clay in dry, dark underground tunnels made by other animals, such as old rodentburrows. Some bumble bees nest above ground in rock or tree crevices, around patio areas or decks, under porches or in the eaves of roofs. They will build in any dry, protected area they find. Colonies are typically 50 to 400 bees.
Colonies & Life Cycle
The only bumble bees to survive winter are the queens hatched and mated at the end of the previous year’s colony cycle. They hibernate in the soil typically in a location that will not warm up too quickly or too early in the spring (to avoid a potentially lethal early emergence). After emerging from an overwintering site, a lone queen seeks out a suitable site to begin a new colony.
The queen then begins to lay eggs on waxy balls of pollen and carefully broods them for 4 days. The queen must, as a “single parent,” alternate between brooding and food gathering and is only able to make short, hopefully highly productive foraging trips. The proximity of a rich flower source is critical for the success of this early stage of the colony. This first brood of eggs, consisting of all female “worker” bees, will take over the duties of collecting pollen and nectar to rear the next brood of their queen. As new young start to emerge, some of the workers are on “nursery detail,” tending the young and newly laid eggs, while others ensure the protection and cleanliness of the nest. The workers that remain in the nest are typically smaller than the foraging workers and may even have reduced to non-functional wings. Workers, and the subsequent cohorts of more and more workers, continue to take over the food gathering tasks, so the queen can concentrate exclusively on egg production. The workers live for two to four weeks and rely primarily on sugar-rich nectars for their food.
New queens and males are produced in late summer. Once mated, a new queen immediately prepares for hibernation by gorging herself on pollen and nectar. She then leaves the nest and spends the long winter months in a new underground retreat. The queens are the only ones to survive the winter.
Since their stinger is smooth, bumble bee workers and the queens can sting more than once, while male bumble bees cannot sting at all since they do not have a stinger. As part of their aggressive defense of their nests, bumble bees will chase invaders for a considerable distance. The bumble bee sting is considered to be one of the most painful.
Prevention & Control
Bumble bees are beneficial insects because they pollinate plants and flowers. Certain flowers actually attract bees more than others. Avoid highly attractive plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and zinnias. Flowers like tulips and roses are unattractive to most bees.
In most cases, bumble bees go out of their way to avoid human contact but will sting if they are provoked or feel the need to defend themselves. If the bees are threatening the safety of you, your employees, or family, call a pest control specialist.
Regular inspections of your home by a pest control professional throughout the year is the best method to identify and prevent any issues with bumble bees or any other pests. Pestfree365 provides regularly scheduled preventive services throughout the year.
Bumble bees can be prevented through inspection of potential nesting areas and removal of potential harborage materials. Because bumble bees will sting when threatened, homeowners are advised to seek out a bee pest control service rather than try to address the infestation themselves.
A Batzner Service Specialist will come to your property to identify the nesting sites and determine the proper treatment method. Depending on the time of year, it may be best to remove the nest when the queen is over-wintering and perform a preventative exterior treatment.
If a bumble bee infestation occurs, count on a professional pest management service to take care of the problem knowledgeably and successfully.