Bumblebee - a buzzing flyer


Bumblebees are quite large, beautiful, brightly colored insects. Females are larger than males. On average, the length of the female body is from 13 to 28 mm, the size of the male bumblebee varies from 7 to 24 mm. Some species, such as the Steppe Bumblebee (Latin Bombus fragrans), grow to 35 mm in length. The weight of the bumblebee's uterus can reach 0.85 g, the working individuals weigh from 0.04 to 0.6 g. At the same time, insects can carry an amount of pollen equal to their own weight.

The bumblebee's body is thick and heavy. The wings of the insect are relatively small, transparent, consisting of two synchronously moving halves. The bumblebee flaps its wings at a speed of about 400 strokes per second. The trajectory of each wing resembles an oval that moves at a large angle. At each stroke, the wings of the bumblebee turn over, taking a slightly different position: when the wing goes down, its upper part is directed upwards, and vice versa. The speed of the bumblebee reaches 3-4.5 meters per second (10.8-16.2 km / h).

Photo by: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Public Domain

The head of the female is slightly elongated, wide-rounded at the nape. In the male, it is triangular or almost round, with a well-marked dashed line on the vertex and the front.

Photo by: USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory, Public Domain

Bumblebees have powerful, overlapping, when approaching, mandibles, mandibles, which are used to gnaw vegetable fibers and form honeycombs. Insect can bite using jaws for protection.

The eyes of the bumblebee are bare, not covered with fibers, arranged in a straight line. The antennae of males are longer than those of females.

Author photo: Sam Droege, Public Domain

Bumblebees have a proboscis, with which they collect nectar. In different species it has a different length: for example, in a small earthen bumblebee (lat. Bombus lucorum) its length is 7-10 mm, and in a garden (lat. Bombus hortorum) it is 18-19 mm. Such sizes of a proboscis allow bumblebees to extract nectar from flowers with a deep halo, such as clover flowers.

Photo by: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Public Domain

The abdomen of bumblebees is not folded to the top. At the end of the abdomen of females is a sting. The male has no sting; in its place are dark brown, strongly chitinized genitalia. At rest, the sting of the bumblebee is not visible. It is hollow inside and, unlike bee, smooth, without chipping. When bitten, the female bumblebee pierces the skin of the enemy, releases a drop of poison and pulls the sting back. Thus, a bumblebee can sting repeatedly and without harm to itself. At the same time, the sting of a bee remains in the body of the bitten one, and she herself perishes.

Bumblebees have 6 legs. The female has a “basket” for collecting pollen on the smooth outer surface of the hind tibia - a platform surrounded by hard, straight hairs. In the male, the hind tibia is usually widened at the apex, and, depending on the species, their outer surface is more or less densely pubescent and convex.

Photo by: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Public Domain

The hairs with which the bumblebee's body is covered have black, white, yellow, orange, reddish or gray color. The color of the insect is usually striped. Rarely found all black bumblebees. It is believed that the colors are directly related to the balance between masking and thermoregulation of the body. Each species of bumblebee has its own, strictly defined color by which it is easy to distinguish it.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

What do bumblebees eat?

Representatives of the bumblebee genus collect pollen and nectar from many plant species, that is, they are polytrophic. Bumblebees use not only fresh nectar to feed the larvae, but also honey, which they make themselves. Honey bumblebees thinner bee, lighter and lighter, less sweet and fragrant. It contains more than 20% of water and is poorly stored.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Where do bumblebees live in nature?

Bumblebees live on all continents except Antarctica. In the Northern Hemisphere, they are distributed mainly in temperate latitudes, but the habitat of some species goes beyond the Arctic Circle (for example, polar bumblebee (lat. Bombus polaris), north bumblebee (lat. Bombus heperboreus)). They are found in the tundra, Chukotka, Alaska, Novaya Zemlya, Svalbard, Greenland and other Arctic islands, less than 900 km from the North Pole. Bumblebees can be found high in the mountains - in alpine meadows, at the very edges of the glaciers of all the major mountain systems of the world (Lapland bumblebee (lat. Bombus lapponicus), Baltic bumblebee (lat. Bombus balteatus), etc.). Preferring cooler places, bumblebees are rare in the tropics: 2 species in Amazonia (Bombus atratus and Bombus transversalis) and several species in tropical Asia. In South America, except for Amazonia, they are widely settled in temperate latitudes. An earthen bumblebee (Latin Bombus terrestris) lives in the North-West of Africa, and there are no representatives of the bumblebee genus in the south, in hot deserts and in the tropics. Bumblebees live in many parts of Asia. It is believed that Asia is the birthplace of all bees.

In the early twentieth century, underground (Latin Bombus subterraneus) and garden bumblebees (Latin Bombus hortorum) were brought from England to Australia and New Zealand for pollination of clover. In New Zealand, several species of bumblebees are currently flying (Bombus terrestris, Bombus hortorum, Bombus subterraneus, Bombus ruderatus). In Australia, bumblebees live only in the state of Tasmania, and they are prohibited from being introduced into other states or imported from other countries.

Author photo: Andreas Schmitt, CC BY-SA 3.0

Bumblebees - the most cold-resistant members of the family of real bees. The ability of bumblebees to survive in cold areas and their dislike for the hot tropics are associated with the characteristics of their thermoregulation. The body temperature of the bumblebee can reach 40 degrees, exceeding the ambient temperature by 20-30 degrees. This increase is due to the fact that the bumblebee quickly contracts the muscles of the chest, without moving its wings. This is exactly what becomes the source of the loud buzz coming from the insect. That is, when a bumblebee buzzes or buzzes, it gets warm. Stopping to move, the insect begins to cool.

Photo by Tim Felce (Airwolfhound), CC BY-SA 2.0

Bumblebee nest.

Bumblebees build their nests underground, on the ground and above the ground.

  • Nests under the ground.

Most species of bumblebees nest underground. They settle in the holes of various rodents and molehills. It is known that the smell of mice attracts a female bumblebee. In the mink of rodents there is a material for warming the bumblebee nest: wool, dry grass and other similar materials. The bumblebees nesting underground include the stone, underground, burrow, garden, motley, large earthen bumblebees.

Taken from the site:

  • Nests on the ground.

Species such as the Shrenka bumblebee, forest, field, meadow, moss, and others, build their nests on the ground: in the grass, in mossy hummocks, in abandoned bird nests, under plant debris.

Author photo: Panoramedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Nests above ground.

The species that nest above the ground: in the hollows of trees, birdhouses, buildings, include the following types of bumblebees: urban, hollow, jonellus. Some species, such as horse, meadow, less often stone bumblebees, are able to build nests both in burrows and on the ground.

The shape of the underground and above-ground nests depends on the cavity that the bumblebee uses. Ground nests are usually spherical. The nest is insulated with dry grass and moss, strengthened with wax. Insects isolate it with the help of special abdominal glands, then use their paws to wipe thin wax strips from the abdomen, put them in their mouths, knead them with their jaws and mold everything from pliable material. Wax highlights the founding female, and in the future, working bumblebees. Thus, a wax dome is created above the nest, which prevents the penetration of moisture, and the entrance is masked to protect the invading bumblebee-cuckoo and other unnecessary neighbors from invading.

Bumblebees maintain the temperature in the nest within 30-35 degrees. If it gets too hot, they arrange ventilation, starting to flap their wings often at the entrance to the dwelling.

The life of bumblebees in nature.

Bumblebees are common insects. Almost like all bees, they live in families that consist of:

  • large fetal dams,
  • smaller working bumblebees,
  • males.

In the absence of a uterus, working females can also lay eggs.

Bumblebee Uterus Author photo: Martin Cooper, CC BY 2.0

Work bumblebee. Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bumblebee male. Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Usually the bumblebee family lives only 1 year: from spring to autumn. It is much smaller than a bee, but still has 100-200, and sometimes 500 individuals. In artificial conditions, it was possible to obtain families of up to 1000 individuals. In some species of bumblebees (for example, the Bombus pratorum meadow bumblebee), the life cycle is shortened, and the family disintegrates as early as July, with some females going for hibernation, and some starting new families. This species gives two generations of families over the summer, which is rare. In the south of Norway there is a species of Bombus jonellus, which even in these latitudes also gives two generations. In the subtropics and tropics, females — founders lay their nests all year round, but the families, however, turn out to be annuals and disintegrate with the death of the queen. And only in the Amazon basin lives the species Bombus atratus, whose families have existed for several years.

In bumblebees, like in other social insects, work in the nest is distributed among family members. Working individuals bring food, feed the larvae, repair and protect the nest. Among them, too, there is a distinction. Usually, larger working bumblebees fly for food and repair the nest from the outside, while those who are smaller are feeding the larvae and repairing the nest. Different types of bumblebees produce feeding in different ways:

  • Some (forest, moss, underground bumblebees and others) mold wax into pockets on larvae (communal larval cells), put pollen and nectar in there, and then push it in with their head inwards, under the larvae.
  • Others (urban, earthy, stone bumblebees and others) belch a mixture of nectar and pollen through temporary holes in the larval.

Working bumblebees can change their skills depending on the needs of the nest. In addition, if the bumblebee's uterus dies, then the working females begin to lay their own eggs. Males, having taken off from a nest, already in it do not return. Their function is to fertilize females. The female founder, or uterus, initially builds and repairs the nest, lays eggs, feeds the larvae, until the workers appear. After their appearance, she no longer flies for food, but only deals with laying and warming eggs, and also participates in feeding the larvae.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

How do bumblebees breed?

There are 4 stages of development of bumblebees:

  1. Egg,
  2. Larva,
  3. Doll,
  4. Imago (adult).

In the spring, the overwintering and fertilized female flies out of her shelter and is actively feeding for several weeks preparing for nesting. When females begin to mature eggs in the ovaries, she looks for a place to nest, flying above the ground and carefully looking around. Having found a suitable place, the queen begins building a nest. At the entrance to the nest, the founding mother molds a wax cup, the so-called “honey pot,” which she fills with nectar. This is a reserve in case of bad weather, when she can not fly. In the center of the nest, the uterus forms a lump of a mixture of pollen and nectar (perga), covers it with wax and lays 8-16 eggs inside. It happens within 2-3 days. Bumblebee eggs have an elongated shape, 0.5 - 1 mm in diameter and 2-4 mm in length.

After 3-6 days, the bumblebee larvae hatch, which grow rapidly, feeding on perga and pollen brought by the female. Stretching the wax shell, the larvae pierce it, and the female (and then the working individuals) constantly repair it. Such a wax cell is called a larval and is characteristic of bumblebees.

Author photo: Entomologie / Botanik, ETH Zürich / Fotograf: Albert Krebs

Within 10 to 19 days, the bumblebee larvae weave a cocoon and pupate. After that, the uterus again forms a clump of pollen and nectar, places it on top of the larval and lays up to a dozen eggs.

After 10-18 days, the youngsters emerge from the cocoons, gnawing them. Some bumblebees then use empty cocoons to store honey and pollen. Thus, the first offspring appears 20-30 days after laying eggs - these are young working individuals. With their appearance, the uterus almost does not fly out of the nest for food. It only lays eggs and helps in feeding the larvae, while working individuals collect nectar and perform other functions. Bumblebees do not use cells for breeding juveniles twice, but each time they build new cells on dilapidated old ones. As a result, the bumble-bee's nest has a sloppy and erratic appearance, in contrast to a strictly ordered bee's nest.

Bumblebee's nest on the left, bee's nest on the right, author of the photo: Ma Hzi Wong, CC BY 3.0

Bumblebee lifestyle at the end of summer.

At the end of the summer comes the period of maturity of the family. Under normal conditions, the uterus, laying 200-400 eggs from which workers emerge, begins to lay eggs, from which males and future founding females are born.

Males 3-5 days old fly out of the nest and spend their short life outside it, sleeping on plants. The mating behavior of males of different species is different:

  • The males of the underground, small stone and other species of bumblebees wait for the female at the entrance to the nest and mate with the outgoing female.
  • Earthen, garden, forest and other bumblebees fly along a certain route and stop at certain points over which they hang for a long time, fluttering their wings in the air, and also sit down on the ground. In these so-called “buzz points”, bumblebees males leave droplets of secretion secreted from the mandibular glands located at the base of the upper pair of jaws. The smell of this secret helps them navigate and attracts females. Mating occurs there.
  • Some species of bumblebees choose noticeable landmarks: stones, tree trunks, groups of flowering plants, fly over them and mate with approaching females that attract males with their appearance and smell.

Shortly after mating, the males die, and the fertilized females hide in secluded places for wintering. Bumblebees winter in the ground. To do this, they in the dry areas with soft soil dug mink depth of 5-10 cm in the spring they get out of their shelters and fly in search of a place to build a nest.

Author photo: Kevin Cole, CC BY 2.0

How long does a bumblebee live?

The average lifespan of a working bumblebee is about two weeks. Bumblebees die for various reasons, including due to the fact that they quickly wear themselves when collecting food. Male bumblebees live no more than a month and die soon after mating. Future founding females leave for wintering after fertilization. After wintering, setting up a nest, laying eggs and feeding the larvae, the queen bumblebee dies.

What bumblebees do not build nests and do not collect nectar?

Not all bumblebees have exemplary families, whose members perform the functions assigned to them. There are so-called cuckoo bumblebees (also parasitic bumblebees or whispers) (lat. Psithyrus), which belong to the subtype of social parasites of the bumblebee genus and include 29 species. These lazy people do not build their own nests and do not collect nectar. Each of the parasitic species, as a rule, looks very similar to its host. Female bumblebees — cuckoos can sometimes be distinguished only by the absence of devices for collecting pollen (brushes and baskets) on their legs. The female cuckoo penetrates the bumblebee's nest and lays eggs. Working bumblebees feed the larvae like their own. Therefore, the cuckoo bumblebees do not need working individuals. Some species of cuckoo bumblebees, such as Bombus Rupestris, Bombus campestris, Bombus barbutellus, Bombus quadricolor, parasitize several species of bumblebees. In some species of parasitizing bumblebees, only one host: for example, Bombus bohemicus is chosen as the host of the bumblebee burrowed (lat. Bombus lucorum). Having penetrated into the host's nest, cuckoo bumblebees behave differently: some species are aggressive, they kill the uterus and guards, others coexist for some time together.

Author photo: Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0

Types of bumblebees, photos and titles.

According to various sources in the world there are about 300 species of bumblebees. Below is a brief description of some of them.

  • Meadow bumblebee(lat. Bombus pratorum) it is widespread in Europe, Russia (in the Urals, in the Caucasus, in the Transcaucasus, in Siberia (to the East to the Baikal region)), in East Kazakhstan. This is not a very large species of bumblebees: females reach 15–17 mm, working individuals grow to 9–14 mm, and males have a length of about 11–13 mm. The head of insects is dark, behind it is a bright yellow collar. The back is dark, on the abdomen comes first yellow, then black stripes, the bottom is bright orange. Bumblebees of this species are among the first to fly in the spring from wintering. Over the summer, they can create two generations. Bumblebees collect food from flowers in light forest. Insects nest on the surface of the soil or in the bushes. Meadow bumblebees are aggressive towards other species, they can attack or even shoot down on the fly.

Author photo: Donald Hobern, CC BY 2.0

  • Bumblebee city (lat. Bombus hypnorum) - a species of bumblebees living in Eurasia: from Western Europe to the Far East of Russia, on Sakhalin, in China, in Taiwan. The body of insects is short: females 10–22 mm, workers 9–15 mm, males 12–16 mm. The city bumblebee has a red chest, a black sling and a white tip are located on the abdomen. City bumblebee nests above the ground, often in buildings, birdhouses, hollows. This species of bumblebees is included in some regional Red Books of Russia.

Photo by André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5

  • Steppe bumblebee(lat.Bombusfragrans) – это очень крупное насекомое: длина тела самок составляет 32-35 мм, самцов — 21 мм. Щёки насекомого почти квадратные. Опушение короткое, равномерное. Цвет шмеля бледновато-серовато-желтый с черной перевязью между крыльями. Insects live in Eastern Europe: Eastern Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, in Asia: in the east of Turkey, in Northern Iran, the South Caucasus, Kazakhstan, the foothills and intermountain valleys of the Tien Shan, in the north of Mongolia. In Russia, steppe bumblebees live in forest-steppes and steppes of the European part and Western Siberia, in the steppes of the Altai, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The steppe bumblebee lives in the plains, foothill and mountain steppes, in the meadows of the forest-steppe zone. Nests are arranged in burrows of rodents in the ground. Steppe bumblebee is listed in the Red Books of Russia and Ukraine.

Photo by: Göran Holmström

  • Bumblebee underground (lat. Bombus subterraneus) - heat-loving insect with an elongated body and a long proboscis. Females reach 19-22 mm, working individuals grow to 11-18 mm, males - up to 14-16 mm. Yellow color in the color of the insect is dimmer than that of other species of bumblebees, dark stripes decrease towards the end of the abdomen, turning into a dirty-white color. The underground bumblebee is common in Europe from Great Britain and Spain to the Urals and the Caucasus, in Asia, in the Transcaucasus, the mountains of Southern Siberia, East Kazakhstan and Mongolia. It is one of four species of bumblebees imported from Great Britain to New Zealand for pollination of clover. This species of bumblebees received its name due to the fact that it arranges nests in abandoned rodent holes. Females from wintering take off at the end of May.

Photo Author: James Lindsey, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Reddish (crushed stone) bumblebee(lat.Bombus ruderatus) has the average size of the body: the length of the body of the founding females reaches 18-20 mm. Males and working individuals grow to 12-16 mm in length. The head of insects ovoid, strongly elongated, long cheeks. The wings of the females are slightly darkened. The bumblebee breast is yellow, with a black stripe in the middle, the belly is black.
    The reddish bumblebee inhabits the whole of South and Central Europe, Ukraine, the European part of the Russian Federation to the Urals, Asia Minor, North Africa, the Azores. It lives on wastelands, in meadow steppes, creating underground nests. This is a rare species of bumblebees, the number of which is extremely low.

Photo by: Hectonichus, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Moss bumblebee(lat. Bombus muscorum). Its area: Europe, Ural and Siberia, except for the polar regions, Western Asia, the Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Tien Shan, Mongolia, northern China, Amur region, Primorsky Krai. Females have a length of 18-22 mm, workers - 10-15 mm and males - 12-15 mm. Painted in bright golden yellow, orange back. Some monochromatic individuals are light brown. The abdomen is lighter than the chest. On the back is exactly “trimmed” fur. This species builds ground-type nests, representing a hollow hummock of grass stalks with a diameter of 20-25 cm. In Russia, the mossy bumblebee is listed in the regional Red Books.

Author photo: Tello Neckheim, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Earth Bumblebee (lat. Bombus terrestris) has the following color: the top of the chest is black, the back with a reddish-yellow band. Abdomen with black, reddish-yellow and white bands. Uterus reach 19–23 mm (up to 27 mm) in length, working individuals grow to 11–17 mm, males - up to 11–22 mm. Earthen bumblebees inhabit Europe (except northeastern regions), Western Asia, the Caucasus, southern Urals and Western Siberia, Central Asia, and northwestern Africa. Nest underground. At the end of the twentieth century, the technology of industrial breeding of this insect species was developed. Earthen bumblebee brings great benefits and is widely used for pollination of various agricultural crops: primarily tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cross-pollinated cucumbers and strawberries in greenhouses. Vibrating, the bumblebee causes shedding of sticky pollen of tomatoes and transfers it to other flowers. This provides almost 100% fruit set. Also, the earth bumblebee pollinates blueberry and cranberry flowers very well, but is ineffective for pollinating clover. His short proboscis can not get nectar, and the bumblebee gnaws a flower from the side, bypassing the anthers. For this he was called "Bumblebee Operator". This species has large families of up to 500 workers. In greenhouses, earthen bumblebees live in special hives for 1.5-2 months.

Author photo: Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Armenian bumblebee(lat. Bombus armeniacus) - This is a rare species of bumblebees listed in the Red Book of Russia and Ukraine. It inhabits plain, foothill and mountain steppes, forest-steppes, on the outskirts of pine forests. It is found in Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, Northern Iran, Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and Western China. The length of the body of the bumblebee is 21-32 mm. The insect has brown wings and strongly elongated cheeks. The head, a band on the back between the bases of the wings, the back segment of the abdomen and the legs of the bumblebee are black, the other parts of the body are light yellow. Armenian bumblebee pollinates legumes and hard-to-color plants.

Photo by John Ascher

  • Forest Bumblebee (lat. Bombus sylvarum) - A small insect with a duller color than other species. The overall tone is grayish. It is a heat-loving species that lives in the upland and floodplain meadows of forest-steppe. The nest builds of dry grass and moss mainly on the ground or uses rodent burrows on the slopes heated by the sun. Families are sometimes quite numerous. Forest bumblebees pollinate vegetable and fruit crops, clover, alfalfa.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Garden Bumblebee (lat. Bombus hortorum) it is widespread in Europe, in the Urals, in Siberia, in the Far East, in Transcaucasia. Delivered to Iceland and New Zealand. Uterus sizes are 18–24 mm, working individuals 11–16 mm, males 13–15 mm. Insect breast yellow with a black stripe between the base of the wings. The abdomen is black with a yellow stripe in the upper part and a white bottom. The garden bumblebee has a long proboscis and nests underground in the old rodent burrows. Willingly inhabits artificial underground nests. It feeds in the grasslands and undersized shrubs. Garden bumblebees are excellent meadow clover pollinators.

Author photo: Jerzy Strzelecki, CC BY 3.0

  • Bumblebee ordinary (changeable) (lat. Bombus soroeensis) lives in the west of Europe and some areas of the European part of Russia. View listed in the red book of Russia. Males reach sizes of 13 cm in length, working bumblebees grow to 12 mm, the queen has a size of about 16 mm. The insect color is black with 2 yellow stripes. The end of the abdomen is white, often white hairs interspersed with orange.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

By the way, the black bumblebee with blue wings is purple bumblebee carpenter (lat. Xylocopa violacea). He does not belong to the genus of bumblebees at all, but to the genus of carpenter bees.

Author photo: Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0

Bumblebee bite and its consequences.

Bumblebee - a peaceful insect. He is not aggressive and bites only in defense: for example, if you close the entrance to his nest with your finger. But this bite is weak and harmless. The female can sting if she is in danger. The sting of the bumblebee in the body itself does not remain, unlike the bee, so the bumblebee does not die after being bitten. But the poison of a bumblebee, caught in the body, can cause unpleasant pain, itching, redness, swelling. Sometimes these symptoms last for several days.

The poison of a bumblebee, consisting of a complex mixture of organic and inorganic compounds, has been little studied. It is known that it is similar in composition to the bee, but contains fewer components that cause a toxic reaction. The reaction to the bumblebee bite is purely individual. For most healthy people, a bumblebee bite is not dangerous. Severe allergic reaction is possible in 1% of cases and then with repeated bites.

Photo author: SuperManu, CC-BY-SA-2.5

What to do at home, if bitten by a bumblebee?

The best remedy for a bumblebee bite is to prevent it. Do not take the bumblebee in hand. Being in nature, one must take care not to accidentally sit on it, not to pin down.

If the insect has already stung you, then the first aid for a bumblebee’s bite should be as follows:

  • sanitize the bitten place with antiseptic, alcohol or soapy water,
  • put a cold compress on the bite,
  • give a bitten plenty of warm drink to the bitten. In no case should alcohol be taken, as it will slow down the defense mechanisms,
  • relieve itching with an antihistamine: suprastin, claritin, zyrtec, etc.

At home, a bumblebee bite can be treated with folk remedies. For a compress you can use: gruel from soda, diluted with water aspirin or validol tablet, diluted vinegar or lemon juice, infusion of tansy or chamomile. Good means are chopped fresh parsley, plantain or dandelion leaves. Compress changes every two hours. A good effect is shredded potatoes, onions or apples. You can use honey or an apple with honey.

If a bumblebee stung you in the neck, lips, eyes, or an allergic reaction, you should consult a doctor.

Photo by: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bumblebee nests above ground

Some species of bumblebees prefer to build their nests above the ground: in the hollows of trees, nesting boxes.

The shape of the underground and surface nests may vary and depends on the cavity used by bumblebees. Nests are insulated with dry grass, moss, strengthened with wax secreted by bumblebees with the help of special abdominal glands. From this wax bumblebees build a wax dome, which prevents the penetration of moisture, it also masks the entrance to the nest to protect uninvited guests from invasion.

Meadow bumblebee

He Bombus pratorum in Latin, lives almost all over Europe, as well as in Asia (in Kazakhstan, the Asian part of the Russian Federation, in the taiga, in the Urals, in Siberia). It has small sizes: females reach 15-17 mm in length, working individuals 9-14 mm. The head is dark, and behind it is a bright yellow collar. They are interesting because it is the bumblebees of this species that first fly out in the spring from wintering. Nest on the ground or in the bushes.

Bumblebee city

This bumblebee lives throughout Eurasia, from Ireland in the West to Sakhalin in the East. A very small representative, the length of the female body is 10-22 mm, of workers - 9-15 mm. Differs in a red breast, and on a belly has a black sling and a white tip.

Bumblebee steppe

It is a very large representative of the bumblebee family, the body length of females reaches 32-35 mm. It has almost that square cheeks. The color of the steppe bumblebee is a pale grayish yellow with a black band between the wings. This bumblebee lives in Eastern Europe, including in Ukraine, in Asia Minor, Northern Iran, and Transcaucasia. Prefers steppe bumblebee flat, foothill and mountain steppe. Nests are arranged in burrows of rodents in the ground. Listed in the Red Book of Ukraine.

Underground bumblebee

This bumblebee has an elongated trunk, as well as an elongated body and a love for heat. Distributed in Eurasia, from Great Britain to the Urals. The yellow color of this bumblebee is dimmer than that of other types of bumblebees. It has medium size: females reach 19-22 mm, working individuals 11-18 mm. Interestingly, the underground bumblebee was one of four species of bumblebees brought from England to New Zealand in order to pollinate the local clover. Nests as it follows from its name, suits under the ground.

Earth Bumblebee

This bumblebee has a back with a reddish-black sling and a black upper chest. Females reach 19-23 mm in length, working individuals 11-17 mm. They live in Europe, anterior Asia and northwest Africa. Interestingly, at the end of the twentieth century a method of industrial breeding of this species of bumblebees was developed. The fact is that the earth bumblebee brings considerable benefits by helping to pollinate various different crops (among them tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries).

Armenian bumblebee

A rare representative of the bumblebee kingdom, in many countries, including in our Ukraine in the red book. It lives in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. The body length of this bumblebee is 21-32 mm. It has brown wings and elongated cheeks.

Forest Bumblebee

A small representative of the bumblebee kingdom, with a slightly dimmer color than other bumblebees. Likes heat, lives in the upland meadows of the forest-steppe. Nests are built on the surface of the earth from grass and moss, however, sometimes using sun-warmed rodent holes as nests.

Garden bumblebee

As well as the underground bumblebee at one time was introduced by the British to New Zealand, where it lives to this day. In addition to this, a garden bumblebee can be found across a wide range from England to Siberia. The uterus is 18–24 mm in length, the working individuals are 11–16 mm. The breast of this bumblebee is yellow with a black stripe between the wings. It is also the owner of a very long proboscis and nests under the ground, in old burrows left by rodents.

Enemies of bumblebees

The big enemies of bumblebees are ants, stealing honey from a female, stealing eggs and bumblebee larvae. To protect themselves from ants, bumblebees build their nests above the ground, away from anthills.

Another enemies of bumblebees are wasps and conopid flies, also stealing bumblebee honey and eating broods. Some birds, such as the European bee-eater, eat bumblebees, pecking them.

Interesting facts about bumblebees

  • Bumblebee breeding is an important branch of agriculture, cultivation of bumblebees is actively practiced to increase crop yields.
  • Previously it was believed that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, a bumblebee was simply not capable of flying and its flights, it would seem, contrary to the laws of physics, surprised scientists. However, someone Zheng Jane Wang, a physicist at Cornell University in the United States was able to explain the mechanism of the flight of the bumblebee principles of aerodynamics.
  • In the morning, a curious character appears in the bumblebee in the bumblebee, so called the bumblebee-trumpeter, very humming. Previously it was believed that in this way he raises his relatives to work. But later it turned out that in such a simple way (with the help of pectoral muscles), this bumblebee just warms up in the early morning hours, the coolest.


Where do bumblebees live? It's easier to say where they don't live. The ability to maintain the heat of its body allowed these insects to dwell far to the north. Bumblebees penetrate to Greenland, Chukotka, Novaya Zemlya and Alaska. What is the cold resistance of these insects? Their body has the ability of thermoregulation.

And at the same time, their peculiarity does not allow them to get along in the tropics. Bumblebees live in North America, in northern Eurasia, and in mountain areas. Only two bumblebee species are found in the tropics of Brazil.

Brief description of insects

Bumblebees (ground bees) belong to the Apidae family, as well as ordinary honey bees.

By its way of life and body structure, this large insect is close to bees. True, lifestyle and nests are different.

Males, unlike females, have long antennae, they are also larger than working bumblebees and have copulation mites.

Their body is large, reaching a length of 3.5 cm, rather densely covered with hairs. The color combines black, red, white and yellow stripes.

The lower, white part of the body, ends with a small, inconspicuous in the usual state, sting. The hind tibiae have spurs.

The eyes of the bumblebee are located almost on the same line.

Both the uterus and the working individuals have a collective apparatus. It consists of a brush and a basket.

Uterus in size more than males and have a sting, as well as workers (females underdeveloped).

Bumblebees are more benign insects, sting very rarely, compared to bees. Little is known about the chemical composition of bumblebee venom. It is not well understood.

Lifestyle, behavior

I wonder where the bumblebees live? Bumblebees, like other insects, are active almost all summer time, but this period is different for all species. It depends on their habitat (high or low).

A characteristic feature of bumblebees that distinguishes them from other pollinators (wasps and bees) is that they can also work in the cold (collect nectar) at temperatures up to 0 ° C. In this regard, they go further than other pollinators to the north.

Those species that live far in the north, with a short one-month summer, do not have time to create a family and live as solitary insects.

In the territories of temperate climate, the created family lives one summer. In tropical areas, some species are organized by perennial families.

Where do bumblebees live in winter? During this period, they live in underground shelters.

The fertilized uterus hibernates mostly in dug holes in the ground, and build nests in the spring.

How and where do bumblebees nest and live? These insects have an amazing rare feature. Unlike other similar insects, all bumblebee larvae develop and feed in one common chamber. In the free cells, however, the female creates stocks of honey and perga (honey test) for the period of bad weather.

Features of social life

Like bees, bumblebees are common insects. They organize large families of up to 200 individuals.

In such communities where bumblebees live, there is a surprisingly clear distribution of responsibilities for absolutely each of its members.

Under natural conditions, the female, as a rule, lays 200-400 eggs to hatch working individuals, then she begins to lay eggs, from which the females and males develop.

Many species have the so-called small queen bees (this is the average between the queen and working individuals). The latter, together with workers and small queen bees, build nests, collect honey and pollen (food) and lay unfertilized eggs, of which only males develop. And from the most recent eggs laid out by the uterus, new uterus are bred, which, in turn, are fertilized by males.

Only old queen bees remain for wintering, since old ones die, males, working individuals, and small queen bees also die. The whole community dissipates.

What happens to a bumblebee's nest? Where do bumblebees live?

Fertilized uterus, as already mentioned above, mostly hibernate in dug recesses in the ground and only in the spring, during the thaw, they begin to build their nests. Жилище это представляет собой неправильные овальные ячейки, образованные из грубоватого красноватого или бурого воска. Гнездо помещается между камнями, в земле подо мхом и т. п.

Нередко шмелями используются кротовые или мышиные норы.

Обычно только самые первые ячейки гнезда состоят из воска, а затем в качестве следующих ячеек служат опустошенные коконы куколок. All cells are also filled with coarse honey and flower dust.

Usually in the nests of bumblebees up to 200 individuals, at least - up to 500. However, people in artificial nests with the presence of heating were able to get families with up to 1000 individuals.

Breeding process, nutrition

For almost the entire summer period, the uterus lay their fertilized eggs. Subsequently, workers come out of them, and then small uterus. Usually in each cell where bumblebees live, several eggs are laid. Some larvae released from eggs die due to lack of food.

The full development of the larvae occurs within about 12 days. Then they spin their own cocoons, where they turn into pupae. This period lasts about 2 weeks.

Larvae gradually grow and move the cell as they grow. And the female and working individuals constantly put in order, repairing and correcting housing. After 30 days in the nest are working individuals.

Since the release of the first workers, the number of inhabitants in the nest is rapidly increasing. And food stocks are growing, left empty cells are used to store them. And this is one of the features of the life of bumblebees. They never reuse the cell twice to breed. Therefore, old nests always have a rather sloppy look. On such dilapidated cells, insects build new ones, without observing any order.

They feed on insect nectar. To do this, they collect it from the blooming flowers of various kinds.

In conclusion, some interesting things about bumblebees

• Often on hot days, the bumblebee can be seen at the entrance to the nest, fluttering its wings. In this way he vents the nest.

• “Wool” helps the bumblebee to bask - it prevents heat loss and reduces them by half.

• Bumblebee is able to reach speeds in flight of up to 18 km / h.

• Bumblebee venom, unlike bee venom, does not harm humans, as this insect does not leave a sting in human skin. But it can sting many times.

• There is a branch called bumblebee breeding - breeding bumblebees for agricultural needs (pollinating various crops in order to increase their yield).

Distinctive characteristics

Bumblebees are characterized by the following features: the eyes are bare, are almost in one straight line, the body is thick, covered with long thick hairs. There are spurs on the hind tibia. The uterus and workers have a collecting apparatus consisting of a brush and a basket. Males are distinguished by long antennae, they are larger than workers and have copulative mites (an important sign for distinguishing species). Uterus larger than males and equipped with a sting, as well as workers (immature females). In many species, also known as the so-called small uterus, the middle between the uterus and workers. Fertilized uterus hibernate for the most part in holes dug by them in the ground and begin to build nests in the spring.

Why are bumblebees buried in the ground before death?

When a bumblebee sits on a flower, it may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Females of parasitic wasps use bumblebees as food for their larvae. The female flies up to the bumblebee, sits on its back and with the help of a sharp ovipositor lays several dozen eggs into its body, from which the larvae hatch and begin to eat the victim from the inside. The larvae secrete special substances that cause the bumblebee to dig into the ground before dying, so that it stays fresh longer. In the body of a dead bumblebee, they will spend the whole winter, and in the spring they will turn into adult riders.

Danger to man!

Bumblebees sting very rarely, but if this happened, then the next development is possible. At the site of the bite, there is itching severe pain, often edema. The bitten place as if "becomes stone". If there are contraindications, the temperature rises, a headache appears, vomiting, there may be seizures. In case of anaphylactic shock, death is possible..

Types and breeds of black bees

Bees are a common insect species. They are brought not only wax, honey, but also clean the environment. Insects are the main pollinators. There are different types and breeds of bees, which are distinguished by their color, functions, and productivity.

Especially interesting is the black breed, almost all insects of this color, but still they have brown, gray specks or stripes. There are pure black, blue, green, red bees. They all have a different color and size.

Black bees have such species:

  1. Home, when the beekeeper teaches them to live in a hive. In this situation, the insect is a little socialization. They are easy to recognize: their body is small, the hair cover is sparse, thick hair is noticed on the insect's chest. If there are yellowish stripes on the side of the stomach, this indicates that the subspecies is aggressive.
  2. Bumblebees make up one of the large groups of black bees and also have yellow stripes. Insects pollinate the plant. Most often, bumblebees are pure black. Despite all the florism of insects to nature, they are dangerous because they are aggressive, constantly irritated and painfully sting.

Characteristics of black bees with blue wings

Blue Wings Carpenter Bee

Carpenters are not completely black, they are with blue wings.

The main function in nature is to prepare a place in the tree for nests. This species is solitary; the female bee can build nests and continue the generation.

Insects are not dangerous, despite being sting. Some carpenters belong to the purple bumblebees, they have nothing in common with this insect. Insects with blue wings of large size up to 3 cm, black torso. The head has a violet or blue tint; the wings can be blue or violet. Black bumblebees can build nests on pillars, on the trunk, they often notice how they make their moves on the roof, attic, so they are called carpenters. Can gnaw deep channel.

Differ from others in such features:

  1. A special partition is made in nests, then a sufficient amount of pollen is prepared and the eggs are laid, insects of different ages can winter in them.
  2. Their legs are shaggy, with the help of them they carry a sufficient amount of pollen, they can collect it on different trees, colors, when they accumulate, how much they are supposed to do, they lay eggs and signet of entrances.
  3. The conclusion of the larvae is independent, the partitions gnaw through begin in the spring, so they are outside.
  4. When you work, the bumblebee begins to gnaw the moves, you can hear how it works, a loud sound is emitted.
  5. The head is very large, it has a powerful jaw.
  6. Insect stings hurt more than honeybees.
  7. You can meet a black bumblebee with purple, blue wings on the territory of Ukraine and Turkey. Here he is a rare breed that is listed in the Red Book. Also sometimes found on the territory of the Caucasus. The reserves of Yalta have long guarded this rare unique insect.

In nature, these black bees are rare, less began to use the tree for construction, there is also a small amount of dead wood, so the black bumblebee is a rare insect.

Popular species of black bees

Highly social bees are treated separately. This group is distinguished not only by its behavior and structure, but also by its body structure.

  1. Common. The insect is very similar in color to the wasp. The small black insect is not aggressive, the wasp is more irritated. On the body you can see yellow-black stripes. Build underground passages.
  2. Honeybee. They accumulate in honeycombs a large amount of honey, they are small in size, black, on the belly have brown and yellow stripes. Beekeepers breed these bees to get a lot of honey. Such bees can be different, there is black and white, pure black. All of them differ in eating habits - they prefer different nectar, they also differ in lifestyle - you can meet semi social, social and single bees. If you keep black breed, you need to take care of protection. Such a bee is very painful to bite. Some sting several times, so the skin becomes irritable.
  3. Public. Insects can be of three types: bumblebees, bees without a sting, honeybees. They all have common characteristics, the difference in color, behavior. They are divided into two groups - black and brown. You can meet in the UK, Europe, North Africa, America.

Black insects can be divided into Dutch, heather. The Americans brought them from Holland. Such bees are agile thieves. A positive quality is their productivity - a sufficient amount of dark-colored honey is collected in a short time; for this, buckwheat is used. Differ in increased nervousness. When the hive opens, they can thrash about hard. After the beekeeper took out the frame, hang in clusters, only then begin to fall and run on different sides. In this situation, it is impossible to quickly find the uterus.

The black American bee constantly pursues the beekeeper in the apiary. Prone swarming. It has a white signet. Such insects are easily shaken off the honeycomb when they select a frame. In some situations, calm. Dangerous when they fall under the clothes and strongly sting the beekeeper.

German black breed appeared in the central part of Europe. Yellow cannons are a border for black stripes. Do not accumulate on the frame, have a high resistance to various diseases.

The black North African bee is especially dangerous, it is irritable, it can smear all with red propolis. Exists on the territory of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia. The breed is very angry, irritable, when inspecting nests, begins to hang in clusters. They have a wide belly and slight fading. In length proboscis reaches about 6.5 mm. Bees are fertile, after losing the uterus, trotkie begin to lay eggs.

A dark European bee originated from this breed, so the French insects have a large number of characteristics, like those of the North African. Twice a year, families are actively engaged in growing broods, this happens in the autumn and spring. A beekeeper must take into account that insects are restless at this time, may leave brood, forage. At the same time, they are resistant to diseases such as Nosematosis, European Foulbrood.

The Sicilian bee is also black in color; it is of North African origin; this breed never steals honey. Sicilian bees are small, in some situations with yellow blotches. The mountain African bee is pure black without yellow spots, it is distinguished by its peacefulness, large size, has a very long proboscis.

In nature, there are a large number of different black bees, they all differ in such characteristics: size, lifestyle, natural functions, productivity. Each of the rocks makes some contribution to nature, therefore it is protected by the Red Book and reserves. Beekeepers breed only honey insects adapted to their locality.