Monday, 22 December 2014

Bumblebees: Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name: Bombus spp.

Appearance / Identification

What Do Bumblebees Look Like?
Bumblebees are large, fuzzy, very hairy insects that are black and yellow colored or in some species orange or red. Size varies by species but adults may be up to a little over one inch long. They differ from carpenter bees, which have a solid black, shiny and hairless abdomen. Bumblebees have a large structure on their hind legs known as a pollen basket that is often loaded with pollen collected by foraging adults. Female bumblebees have a stinger and a pointed abdomen, while males do not have a stinger and have a rounded abdomen.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where Do Bumblebees Live?
While various bumblebee species may choose different nest sites, they usually build their nest in dry, protected and hidden cavities either below ground, on the ground or close to the ground level. Typical places for bumblebee nests are abandoned rodent tunnels, behind structure siding where gaps and cracks allow entrance, under piles of wood on the ground, under piles of dead leaves and compost piles or even abandoned birds’ nests. The bumblebee queen that has overwintered in a protected location constructs the nest in the early spring and begins the new bumblebee colony.
Bumblebee nests typically contain far fewer members than honeybee nests and usually number from 50 to about 400 individuals. The population size varies by the bumblebee species and environmental conditions. Bumblebee workers only live for about a month and spend most of their time foraging for plant nectar and pollen – their main source of food and the source of nutrition for immature members of the nest. Unlike carpenter bees, a species that property owners often confuse with bumblebees, they do not damage wood or other structural components.

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