April 27, 2012 – I saw my first bumble bee of 2012 today. I love these giant bees! Some bumble bees are 4 to 5 times the size of a honey bee. They have a wonderful buzzing sound and are very gentle. Usually, they have yellow and black coloring. Some can even be solid black.
“Bumble bees are similar to their close relatives, the honey bees, in that their colonies are headed by a queen, who is the main egg-layer, and many workers, who are the daughters of the queen, and in that drones (males) are produced during the mating season. However, the colonies of bumble bees, unlike those of honey bees, only survive during the warm season; new queens hibernate alone to begin another colony the following spring. In addition, there are usually fewer individuals in a bumble-bee colony than in a honey-bee colony, and bumble bees do not use a dance to communicate the location of food to other members of the colony, as honey bees do. Also, although bumble bees collect nectar and store it as honey, they do not hoard large amounts of it, as do honey bees.”
“The bumble-bee nest consists of a spherical chamber with a single exit. The queen chooses a preexisting cavity, such as an abandoned mouse nest, in which to begin her family. Most species nest in the ground. The queen forms a small mound of pollen paste in the middle of the nest, lays several eggs in it, and seals it with a small dome of wax. She also constructs a hemispherical wax cup, called a honeypot, in the entranceway floor and fills it with nectar. The queen feeds on this nectar while she incubates the eggs.” MORE