Red- tailed bumblebees are delightful to watch in my garden. They are easy to spot, with their bright patch of orange, as they buzz around nectar rich flowers. Colonies, of these bees, number around 200 members. Aren’t they pretty?
The queens come out of hibernation in early Spring. Queenie lays eggs of worker bees right away. The workers build nests in stone crevasses or , sometimes, in old birds nests. They tend the eggs too. A while later, the male bees hatch to mate with females and carry on the nectar collecting business, which is their source of food. In the Fall, all the males (including worker bees) and the old queen die…the new queens, hatched that year, hibernate in order to start the cycle again in the spring.
These bumblebees are common in the United States and Europe. In recent times, their numbers have diminished as their habitat has been reduced and pesticides have killed some of them off. You can make a difference in their population numbers by keeping nectar rich flowers in your gardens.
Last season, I noticed an alarmingly reduced number of honeybees and red-tailed bumblebees. Part of last year’s dilemma was, in my opinion, the unusually warm and snow-free winter which affected the natural timing of tree flowers with bee hatching. Whatever the reason, my fruit trees bore far fewer fruit due to the absence of pollinators. I have high hopes for this spring to come.
As a footnote, I have never been stung by a bumblebee. One of my favorite childhood activities was catching them in jars, then releasing them. Mom warned that I was asking for stings, yet they never did. The photos above were taken by practically placing my camera lens on the subjects…still no stings. I don’t recommend antagonizing bees but would hope that people avoid them rather than kill them. They are very important to farmers and our produce!
- Bumblebees do best where there is less pavement and more floral diversity (familysurvivalprotocol.com)
- Bumblebees Thrive With Less Pavement, More Floral Diversity (scienceblog.com)
- Urbanization Causing Negative Impact on Ground-Nesting Bumblebees: Study (natureworldnews.com)
- Bumbles – earlies! Clematis and nectar. (tiggerrenewing.wordpress.com)