The importance of bumblebees as agricultural pollinators can’t be overstated. Unlike honey bees, they are able to forage in cold, rainy, and cloudy conditions, so it is possible to see them in all kinds of weather. Even on a cold morning you can find a bumblebee sleeping inside a flower blossom waiting for some warmth to arrive. Some of the crops that bumblebees like to pollinate include tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, chives, cucumbers, apples, strawberries, alfalfa, blackberries, soybeans, sunflowers, beans, cherries, apricots, plums, almonds, nectarines, peaches, rosehips, eggplants, and cranberries.
Bumblebees are also important pollinators of many flowering plants and are generalists, which means they pollinate by visiting hundreds of flowering plants. Their wings beat anywhere from 130 times to 230 times per second. The beating of their wings shakes the flowers until pollen is released, resulting in what is called buzz pollination.
Bumble bee decline
There is evidence that in North America some bumblebee species are declining and a few are
threatened with extinction. Species that seem most vulnerable are those with smaller climate tolerances and those that emerge later. Many species in North America and around the world, are declining at a rapid rate.
The suspected threats to wild bumblebees include the following:
1. Habitat loss due to agricultural
2. Urbanization or pollution
3. Pesticide use
4. Pathogen spillover from managed bees
Most bumblebees nest in underground nest, logs or other crevices. You can help the bumblebees come to your property by providing a in nest, just as you would for mason bees.
Since most bumbles nest in the ground or a dark, dry cavity, you can provide a simple ground nest with a clay pot, a saucer, some straw, piece of chicken wire, and a short piece of garden hose for an entrance. The low zig zag flight of a queen searching for a nest can be observed in the spring and is very distinctive.
A mature bumblebee nest can contain up to 400 residents, as compared with 50,000 to 80,000 in honeybee nests. The bumblebee nest is typically located in the shade of a dry location. The straw used is often obtained from a mice nest, as a queen will be attracted to the smell. For complete instructions and diagrams, go to Hartley Botanic. The queen will overwinter in the nest to start a new colony in the spring.