You know the words…we all sang it as kids:
These large, furry bees may look cute but just like the song implies…they’re not so cute when they decide to sting!
Bumble bees have a distinctive large, clumsy appearance and are easily recognized by their black and yellow fuzzy appearance and the buzzing sound that they make when they fly. Their stingers are relatively smooth with small barbs which is what makes their sting so painful. Worker bees are usually between 1/4-1″ while the queens are 3/4-1″.
There are 51 species of bumble bees throughout the US and Canada. Bumble bees are social creatures that like to stay near their nests or colonies. The queen bumble bee will find a nest area in the spring after she has overwintered throughout the colder seasons. Nest locations are often made underground in abandoned mouse nests or on grass clumps and covered with loose grass on top. A mature bee nest can contain anywhere from 50 to 400 bees; the largest recorded nest contained 756 bees with 385 larvae and/or pupae. Different species will attack nests of other species for possession of the nest, killing the queen and taking over the nest. In late summer, males and new queens are reared in the nest. Once the new queens emerge, they mate and find a suitable place to overwinter. Males, workers, old queens and virgin queens die off with the colder weather.
Although bees can be an annoyance by gathering around our flowering plants and the potential threat of a sting, bumble bees are beneficial for the pollination of our flowers. However, if a nest is located near a structure or a recreational area, control is needed. People who are sensitive to insect venom or have known allergies should exercise extreme caution around bumble bee nests. Appropriate protective apparel should be worn when trying to locate or control bumble bee nests.