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Bumble Bee: Key Facts

Did you know there are many different species of bumble bee throughout the world? Or that they are extremely important in the environment due to their pollination skills? Read on to learn more about these and other bumble bee key facts.

Quick Facts About Bumble Bees

Scientific Name:Bombus
Type of Animal:Insect: Bee
Number of Species:Over 250
Physical Description:Large, fuzzy-looking bees, typically in various shades of black, brown, and yellow. Their bodies are rounded and covered in fur, and their wings are typically clear gray in color. Their heads are rounded and furry like the rest of their bodies, and like other insects, they have six legs. These legs contain pollen sacs which collect and distribute pollen as they travel from flower to flower.
Distribution:Widely distributed throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.
Habitat:Typically found in prairies, open fields, and other grassland habitats, including urban areas.
Size:0.5 to 1 inch long
Diet:– Flower nectar
– Flower pollen
– Honey-like substance they make
Lifespan:– Queen: up to 1 year
– Workers: 4 to 6 weeks
– Drones: up to 2 weeks
Colony Size:50 to 400 depending on species

What Are Bumble Bees?

Bumble bees are some of the world’s greatest pollinators. There are hundreds of bumble bee species throughout the world, and they are responsible for pollinating many of the plants that produce up to 90 percent of global food supply.

Bumble bees live in colonies of about 50 to 400 individuals, and they typically build their nests in the ground or in old abandoned buildings. Most colonies consist of one queen bee, who lays all the eggs; many female worker bees, who pollinate flowers and produce small amounts of a honey-like substance; and male drone bees, who mate with the queen.

Bumble bees mostly eat nectar and pollen, but they also eat the honey-like substance they create from flower nectar. They don’t produce large amounts of this substance as honey bees do; they produce only what they need at any given time.

Check out this video to learn more about bumble bees and one of their unique pollination tricks:

Interesting Bumble Bee Facts

  • Their wings beat extremely fast: According to the National Wildlife Federation, bumble bees can flap their wings at least 130 times every second. This extremely fast wing speed allows them to “buzz pollinate” by vibrating large amounts of pollen from flowers, as well as to keep their nests cool in a process known as “fanning.”
  • They could starve to death in less than an hour: The metabolism of a bumble bee is so high that it can’t go more than about 40 minutes without eating. Any longer than that and it would starve to death.
  • They can sting many times: Bumble bees have smooth stingers that can jab their victim and slide right back out without any harm to themselves. For this reason, they can sting repeatedly throughout their lives; fortunately though, bumble bees generally aren’t aggressive and will only sting to defend themselves or their nest. Here is an article of what would happen if your dog ate one.
  • They have five eyes: Two of the eyes you can see clearly on the sides of their head, while the other three are smaller and are located on top of the head. Bumble bees are able to see a range of colors as well as UV light; their only weakness when it comes to sight is that they can’t discern the color red.
  • They don’t have a circulatory system: Bumble bees have a heart and blood, but they don’t have the veins and arteries to pump the blood through the body. Instead, their internal organs are immersed in blood that pools inside of them.

Conclusion

Bumble bees are found throughout the world and are some of the most important pollinators of any insect. They live in colonies of up to 400 bees and eat a diet of nectar, pollen, and a substance they make from nectar that is similar to honey.

Don’t forget to read about other forest insects – these are our popular guides about dragonflies, karner blue butterflies and monarchs.

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