Bumblebee

Actual Size: ¾” –  1”

Characteristics: Hairy body, black usually with yellow or white bands

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Often nest in the ground but also in soffits or attics. They can be seen around patio areas or decks.

Habits:

  • Important pollinators that do not produce much honey
  • They defend their nests aggressively and can chase intruders
  • A bumblebee sting is considered to be one of the most painful stings

Bumblebees in Eastern Tennessee

Worldwide, there are about 250 species of bumblebees. These bees are large and robust insects covered with densely branched setae (hairs). They have short stubby wings and are beneficial as pollinators for many kinds of crops and ornamentals. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second according to the National Wildlife Federation. The beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. This helps plants produce more fruit.

The only bumblebees to survive winter are the queens. They hibernate in the soil in a location that will not warm up too quickly or too early in the spring (to avoid a potentially lethal early emergence). After emerging from an overwintering site, alone queen seeks out a suitable site to begin a new colony.

Bumblebee Habitat

Compared to other social stinging insects, bumblebees live in smaller colonies of at least 50 members. Some can grow to the hundreds. Most bumblebees nest in the ground, using deserted rodent burrows and shallow cavities excavated beneath patio stones, landscaping timber, piles of compost, and within dense patches of grass. Above ground, they will occupy abandoned bird nests and fiberglass-insulated structural voids associated with outside walls, patio roofing, and decks.

Bumblebee Behavior & Stings

Although most insects are environmentally beneficial, it can be difficult to coexist peacefully when they invade your personal space. Since their stinger is smooth, bumblebee workers and the queens can sting more than once. Male bumblebees, on the other hand, cannot sting at all since they do not have a stinger. As part of the aggressive defense of their nests, bumble bees will chase invaders for a considerable distance. The bumblebee sting is considered to be one of the most painful.

If you notice a bumblebee nest or an increase in bumblebee activity in or near your property, always contact your local bee control company.