Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do You Have a Bumblebee Sleeping in Your Flower Bed?

This evening while I was wandering around the garden I noticed a lot of bumble bees. Some were gathering pollen, stuffing it into their baskets on their hind legs then moving on to the next flower. Other bumbles were just hanging under the flowers on the chaste tree blooms or cuddled-up in the center of the cosmos.

They looked like they were getting comfortable for a good night’s sleep. Is that possible that bumblebees sleep in the flowers? I started doing some checking and actually, even though it was almost dark, the females were still gathering food for everyone back at the ranch - baby bumblebees (larva), the queen, worker bees…

The males however don’t even have baskets built in for collecting pollen because they don’t have to worry about anyone but themselves. Once they leave the nest they don’t go back so their job is to feed themselves (pollinating plants as they go) and possibly when the time is right, get lucky and mate with a queen.

By early evening they find a flower to bed down in (or under). As they sleep their temperature drops so in the morning since they can’t get a jolt of java (like us), they have to wait for the sun to warm them back up or drink nectar; conveniently located in their bed, to get them energized once more so they can buzz back to work pollinating flowers and chasing queens.
Sometimes when bumblebees get soaked in the rain, they will look like they are napping but are just waiting for the sun to dry them off.

Do bumblebees sting? Yeah baby, it is not their first choice but when push comes to shove and you stumble over their nest (usually in the ground), they will sting many times over. Unlike honey bees that sting once and leave the stinger in you, the bumble can retract the stinger and keep on stinging.

Typically bumblebees are happy to just go about their business and are quite docile in nature. They will give a warning if you get too close by lifting up one of their middle legs as if they are saying. “Okay buddy - that is close enough, back off!”

Bumblebees play an important role in pollination. Without bumblebees, honey bees and other pollinators our food supply would be in jeopardy. Some species of bumblebees are being used in greenhouse growing operations to pollinate tomatoes and other food crops.

My grandson is quite taken with bumblebees, he sings a song about them that goes something like “I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me. The next verse is something about squashing the bumblebee; we will have to change that line!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I was very curious about bees as a child. I always wondered what would happen if you caught one.... I caught one and never wondered again... yikes! Will I see you in Raleigh at the GWA? Looking forward to it!