BUMBLE BEE EXTERMINATOR
BUMBLE BEE EXPERTS
Bumble bees are large, robust insects with hairy bodies. They are usually between 6 and 25 mm long. Their bodies are often coloured black and yellow, sometimes with orange, red or white patterns. The head has a pair of compound eyes, three ocelli forming a triangle and a pair of antennae. The mouth parts are of the crusher-licker type. The tongue, or labium, is long. The thorax carries two pairs of membranous wings, the posterior ones being smaller than the anterior ones. When the insect takes flight, the two pairs of wings are attached together by a series of small hooks, or hamuli, located on the edge of the hind wings. To the thorax are also attached the three pairs of legs. In females, the hind legs are modified to facilitate pollen collection and transport. The outer surface of the tibia, where the insect collects pollen, is smooth and lined with long hairs. The first segment of the abdomen of bumblebees is fused to their thorax. The abdomen ends with a sting in females.
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What is the difference between a bee and a bumble bee?
Bees and bumblebees are both members of the Apidae family, but they have notable differences in appearance and behaviour:
- Size and Shape: Bumblebees tend to be larger and rounder than bees. Their body is generally more hairy, which gives them a fluffy appearance. Bees, on the other hand, have a more elongated body and are generally less hairy.
- Coloration: Both insects have black and yellow stripes, but their arrangement varies. Bees have a more uniform coloration with more regular stripes, while bumblebees can have more variable colour patterns.
- Behaviour: Bumblebees are rather solitary creatures, while bees are known for their highly social behaviour and complex colony organization with a queen, workers and males.
- Nesting: Bees often build hives with organized wax cells, usually in protected cavities. Bumblebees, on the other hand, prefer more isolated places such as the ground, compost piles or under wood piles.
- Stinging ability: Bumblebees have the ability to sting multiple times, as their stinger is not barbed, whereas bees lose their stinger (and their life) after stinging.
It is important to note that these differences may vary between specific species of bees and bumblebees.
Can the bumblebee sting?
Yes, bumblebees have the ability to sting. Unlike bees, which lose their stinger (and subsequently die) after a sting, the bumblebee stinger is not barbed. This means that they can sting several times without dying. However, it is important to note that bumblebees are generally less aggressive than bees and only sting when they feel directly threatened. In addition, only the females (queen and workers) are able to sting; the males do not have a stinger.
Are bumblebees dangerous?
Generally, bumblebees are not a threat to humans. They are rather peaceful and sting only in case of direct threat or to protect their nest. However, their sting can cause local pain and a minor inflammatory reaction, similar to those caused by a bee sting. In rare cases, a person may have a more severe allergic reaction to a bumblebee sting, leading to symptoms such as severe swelling, breathing difficulties or anaphylactic shock. If you experience such a reaction, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately. In short, as long as you respect the bumblebees’ space and avoid provoking them, they are not considered dangerous.
Does the bumblebee drink water?
Yes, bumblebees, like most insects, need water to survive. They often find it in dew, ambient moisture, small puddles or even inside the flowers they visit to feed. It is recommended that you leave a small water source accessible in your garden if you wish to attract and help these precious pollinators.
How to recognize a drone?
The drone, or male bee, can be identified by the following:
- Size: generally larger than worker bees.
- Body: more robust and rounded.
- Eyes: very large and joining almost at the top of the head.
- Absence of stinger: drones cannot sting.
- Antennae: longer than those of the worker bees.
- Legs: without pollen baskets, unlike workers.
- Activity: outside of the breeding season, they spend a lot of time inside the hive or feeding on the flowers.
|Latin name||Bombus spp.|
|Length||Queen : 13 to 32 mm|
Worker: 7 to 18 mm
Male: 10 to 17 mm
|Color||Yellow and black|
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BOURDON
These insects form organized societies whose individuals are divided into three castes. The adults of each of these castes have different physical characteristics and functions. These are the queen, the workers and the males. Workers are absent in parasitic bumblebees belonging to the subgenus Psithyrus. The queen is the largest insect in the colony. The huge bumblebees that we see foraging in spring are queens. Depending on the species, they can measure between 13 and 32 mm long. The workers have a size varying between 7 and 18 mm. They are smaller than the queen but look very much like her. The male bumblebees measure between 10 and 17 mm long.
Bumblebees are insects with complete metamorphosis or holometabolous. All the bumblebees in the first three stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) are called brood. Bumblebees form new colonies every year. Only the young fertilized queens spend the winter. They come out early in the spring and look for a place to nest. This is usually underground, in an existing cavity, for example, an old rodent burrow (mouse, shrew, chipmunk). The queen can also settle in a bird’s nest, under a pile of dead vegetation or in the empty space of a wall, under a roof, etc. After choosing a suitable location, the queen collects grasses, moss, leaves or hair to line the interior of her new home.
It then builds more or less simultaneously two cells of brownish wax, often mixed with pollen, the size of a thimble. One of them will host the first eggs of the colony. The other, placed between the egg-laying cell and the entrance to the nest, is called a honeypot. The queen fills it with regurgitated nectar and uses it as a larder while she tends to her eggs. She is thus able to feed herself without ceasing the care of her offspring. The preparation of the two cells requires several days of work.
The eggs are deposited in the egg cell on a food supply for the larvae. It is pollen, to which the queen has added a little nectar. She lays between five and 20 elongated and slightly curved white eggs in this mixture. She then covers the whole with wax and settles on the cell to keep the eggs warm during their development. Hatching takes place three to five days later. The young larvae, white and legless, feed together in the cell. They grow by undergoing four moults. After about seven or eight days, each larva makes a silk cocoon which transforms into a pupa. The queen removes the wax covering the pupal cocoons and incubates them again. The adults that emerge after 12 to 14 days are workers. These sterile females will take care of the next generation produced by the queen.
As the days go by, the queen is increasingly busy laying eggs and building cells for the brood. She usually lays three or four eggs per cell, which will also give birth to sterile females. The other tasks are left to the workers. At its peak, the colony has 50 to 500 bumblebees (often less than 200).
Towards the end of the warm season, the queen lays unfertilized eggs that give birth to males. Fertile females also appear. The larvae of these reproductive insects are fed by the workers, by regurgitation, of a mixture of honey and pollen. Once adult, males and fertile females leave the nest and mate. The future fertilized queens then take shelter under bark, in hollow trees or in any other dry and protected place, to spend the winter. The rest of the colony dies with the cold of autumn.
Bumblebees are found in forests, mountainous regions, bogs, fields, etc. They are common in temperate habitats, in cool climates, where nectariferous plants bloom.
Bumblebees are strictly vegetarian insects. The larvae and adults feed on nectar, honey and pollen. The larvae feed mainly on pollen, which is richer in proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, and the adults absorb mainly nectar. The queen also eats pollen to obtain the proteins necessary for egg production. The larvae are supplied by the adults with a mixture of pollen and nectar which is called bee bread. The workers and the queen can also feed the larvae by regurgitation. However, there is no exchange of food between adults, as in the honey bee.
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