Provincial Pest Control

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What is Bumble Bee? – Identification, Interesting Facts, and Control

Bumble bees

Key Takeaways

  • Bumble bees, vital for pollination, have an annual life cycle with a queen surviving winter to start a new colony in spring.
  • Identified by their black and yellow hairy bodies, bumble bees build underground nests and forage mainly for nectar and pollen.
  • Unlike honey bees, bumble bees can sting multiple times, with female workers possessing smooth stingers.
  • Signs of bumble bee infestation include audible buzzing, sightings of bees near the nest, and wax and developmental cells in the yard.
  • While bumble bees are generally beneficial, professional removal may be necessary if their nest poses a risk, with Provincial Pest Control offering tailored solutions in Canada.


The bumble bee is one of the many bee species worldwide. They are winged hairy insects that serve as active pollinators to plants. Bumble bees are mostly found in Canada because they originate from here.

Bumble bees are social insects living in colonies and castes like other bees. The typical lifecycle of a bumble bee is one year. In addition, there are male and female bees, but only the queen survives winter and emerges to start a new colony in spring.

There are two major types of bumble bees – the nest-building bumble bees and the parasitic ones. The parasitic bumble bee queen usually feeds on larvae and takes over the colonies of other bees.

Even though bumble bees are great pollinators offering great benefits to plants in the environment, they can also sting humans, causing a painful allergic reaction. If you want to learn how to identify bumble bees, their lifecycle, habit, habitat, diet and so on, read this article until the end.

What Does a Bumble Bee lo Look Like?

A bumble bee is a large, winged hairy insect, usually black and yellow. They measure between 13-25 mm and occur as male and female. The male bees have 6 segmented bodies and 12 antennae, while the male bumble bees have 7 segmented bodies and 13 antennae. The queen and workers have pollen baskets on their back legs to aid pollination.

Bumble Bee vs Carpenter Bee

Bumble bees are often mistaken for carpenter bees but are different. Bumble bees have hairier abdomen with black and yellow colour. They don’t burrow into the wood, and they are annual nesters. Contrarily, the carpenter bees reuse their nest.

Bumble Bee Behavior and Habitat and Diet

The common way you can identify the presence of bumble bees is the loud buzzing noise around their nest. If you threaten bumble bee nests, the female bumble bees have smooth stringers which they can use to sting multiple times. The male bumble bees called drones don’t have stringers.

Bumble bees live in hives built underground in animal burrows, clumps of dry grass, abandoned buildings, old birds’ nest, and so on. A very big bumble bee hive can contain about 200 bees: the queen, workers (Sterile females) and drones (males).

The bumble bee forages and consumes mostly nectars and pollens. They don’t produce a lot of honey, but they produce enough for the colony to feed on when there’s a food shortage. Like hornets, all the bees die at the end of summer, excluding the queen who emerges after winter.

Bumble Bee Lifecycle

How long does a bumble bee live? The bumble bees are annual nesters. Like other bees, they pass through four developmental stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adults don’t live long except for the queen, that survives the winter.

The life span of a bumble bee starts in spring when the queen finds a secure place after overwintering, where it emerges after winter to start a new colony. The queen starts the first tasks of looking for food, building a nest, laying eggs, and caring for the broods. The initial fertilized eggs develop into sterile females (workers) which take over the work of nest expansion and feeding from the queen. The unfertilized eggs develop into drones.

By summer, the queen lays a new set of eggs for the next year. Once the new queens are hatched, they leave the hives with the drones to mate. The drones die shortly after mating, and the new queens seek shelter for overwintering. The queens hibernate separately until the next spring when it emerges to start another colony next year.

Bumble Bee Sting

Bumble bees rarely stings except they are threatened. They sting humans when they forage in the wrong place or when their caste is disturbed by human or animal activities like mowing or weeding. Furthermore, they are aggressive so, you should be worried if you have them in your yard.

Generally, strong fragrances attract them to you. So, avoid wearing fragrant lotions, shampoos, perfumes, and soaps. Never squash a bee, just blow it off gently. Don’t walk barefooted in the yard, on the lawn or in the flowering area at home. Also, don’t expose your food and maintain a good trashing system.

Bumble bee stings can cause short-term pain that will naturally fade away. However, it can lead to severe allergic reactions for some people. Ensure that you call for medical assistance once you notice any severe reaction. The doctors know the best bumble bee sting treatment. Bald-Faced Hornet: Everything You Need To Know

Signs of Bumblebee Infestation

Although bumble bees benefit the ecosystem because they are great pollinators, female bumble bees have stringers that inject painful venom. Unlike honey bees, they can sting multiple times.
Signs of infestation include:

The audible buzzing sound of bees’ activities
Sighting a bee near the nest.
Sighting bee wax in your yard
Sighting bee developmental cells and honey stores arranged in bunches with brown or orange colour.

Bumble bees come to your yard to look for nectars and food so, homeowners may notice their nest outdoors. Even though they have an underground nest, you can still encounter them in your yard while mowing the grass. The best way to approach infestation is to call on a professional who can assess the situation and give a tailored treatment.

Bumble Bee Control and Removal

Bumble bees are docile except you threaten them, so if their nest is located far away from you and it is impossible to disturb them, leave them. If you discover a large bumble bee nest, restrict people and animals’ access to the nest. Then call on Provincial Pest Control (PPC) immediately especially when the risk of getting stung is high.

At Provincial Pest Control (PPC), we know the importance of bumble bees in the ecosystem and pay utmost attention to bumble bee treatment and control. You can place a free inspection request to us anywhere in Canada. We will evaluate your particular situation and treat it accordingly.


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