Bumble Bees - The Friendly Bee
The bumble bee is the largest and gentlest of all the known species of bees. There are about 200 types. They live mostly alone and don’t swarm so don’t be afraid of the friendly furry bee although they might sting if they feel threatened. They do not lose their sting when they do use it. Only queens and workers have stings. They may even sit quietly in your hand and let you stroke them. Some have orange and red coloring, some are all black.
Bumble bees have small nests, about the size of a baseball, because the size of the colony is not very large. They may spend a significant amount of their time maintaining the temperature of their nests. They do not like the cold and can’t move when their bodies are too cold but they may be better able to tolerate the cold than other species of bees. They have a special technique of warming their bodies by vibrating their muscles. This is the action that produces the buzzing sound of the bee, not the beating of their wings. They sometimes need to buzz around a bit in order to warm up before flying.
The males or drones aren’t good for much in the colony, they go off and live by themselves and only show up for mating. The workers and queens die in the beginning of winter after producing the brood. Before the dirt gets frosty the new queens go off to look for new places to hibernate in safety. When the spring warmth comes, they will get back to their business of pollen collecting for honey production. Bumble bees produce just a little bit of honey, enough to feed the young.