Bumblebees are a sign of summer – buzzing in gardens that perch on clover and flowers. Most of us already know that bees live in the hive, but how can we find out where the bumblebees live?
Bumblebees are very different from honeybees or carpenter bees – they live and hive differently. We’ll help you search around for this hornet’s nest. If you find one, we’ll also give you some advice.
Where do bumblebees live?
When we think of bees and their habitat, we usually think of a hive. But bumblebees like to do things differently. Bumblebees have a very different lifestyle than most other bees.
For example, carpenter bees live in wood, where they carve tunnels for eggs and larvae. Bees spend most of their time upgrading their hives to make more room for honey. Bumblebees also produce honey, but their main purpose is pollination.
While bumblebees can live above and below ground, most prefer to live underground. The queen hornet is responsible for finding the perfect spawning site. It all depends on the species of bumblebee.
Some queens find it best to build their nests in abandoned burrows, under sheds, or on compost piles. Others might find an old bird box, a hole in a tree, or maybe even tall grass.
After the newly awakened queen finds her place, she starts searching for pollen and nectar. She brings it back to the scene and makes a waxy substance to lay the eggs on. This is the bottom of the nest, and once the first group of bees gets big enough, they take over.
How do bumblebees choose their nesting sites?
Once spring brings warm temperatures, the queen bee emerges from diapause. She’s running out of time to find a suitable nesting site for her year in office. But first, she needs to feed on nectar and pollen.
After so many months of sleep, her energy reserves are depleted and she is initially unable to fly. Their flight muscles need to be around 86 degrees Fahrenheit to work. It reaches this temperature by shivering, thereby warming the flight muscles. At 55 degrees air temperature, this takes about 5 minutes.
Your first task is to feed. When it finds a flower, it feeds quickly and is ready to fly off to find a new home. To do this, she uses her sense of sight and smell to navigate and properly inspect the environment. Finding the Nest Queen is pretty easy if you pay close attention. It flies very close to the ground in some zigzag fashion.
She might look for a sheltered entrance where it feels warmer and more comfortable, but without direct sunlight. It also needs a nearby food source so that key supplies are readily available should it start developing new colonies.
Nest preferences of bumblebees
One of the main differences between bumblebees and carpenter bees is that bumblebees have limitations in gathering materials for nesting. This might sound a little odd considering that carpenter bees and even bees are willing to build a hive from scratch.
However, bumblebees need to find locations where most of the supply already exists or is within reach.
The queen will usually look for a place with a lot of moss, perhaps leaves, tall grass, or some fur. When she builds a nest, she can quickly rake these items together to create a small nest.
Bumblebees love comfort and chaos, and they’re not the neatest bees in the world. This is also a way of distinguishing their nests from those of bees, for example, but more on that later.
Once she finds a potential location, she hovers close to get a better look. She might even go into the cave to investigate further. If that’s not the case, she’ll move on — but if it proves appropriate, she’ll stay.
Sometimes, the queen encounters competition. If other hunters find the same place useful, they’ll likely fight for it.
It is also possible that she is visited by cuckoo bumblebees. These are not your usual bumblebees. They come from the genus Psithyrus and are known as social parasites.
Instead of building their own nests, they find a hornet queen and take over her buildings. The cuckoo bumblebee is completely dependent on other bees because it cannot produce wax or honey to build or feed its nest. These encounters sometimes lead to life-and-death struggles.
Why there are fewer suitable nesting sites?
Since bumblebees cannot gather all the supplies of the nest, it is important to find a suitable location. Unfortunately, many are uprooted, including their feeding grounds.
We’re talking about places like the hedge and wildflower landscape. No hedges means less hiding places for small mammals such as rodents. This in turn means fewer burrows for bumblebees to take over.
Wildflowers provide most of the pollen and nectar needed by the early-emerging queen bees. Unfortunately, many of these places are being excavated.
What does a bumblebee nest look like?
Bumblebees are social insects, similar to honeybees and carpenter bees. They live in colonies, but they are much smaller than bees.
Also, bumblebees have a much shorter lifespan than honeybees. The average queen bee can live three to four years in the same colony. Queen bumblebees can only survive for a year, and workers can only survive for a few months at most.
This limits colony size because many bees die before large numbers can form. There are usually about 50 to 400 bumblebees in the nest. Some have reported as many as 1,700, but this is usually kept in captivity.
This is also why bumblebee nests are much smaller and therefore harder to find. If you manage to find one, you’re in luck. Not everyone can see bumblebee nests up close – but certainly not everyone wants to see them up close.
In order for you to understand what a bumblebee’s nest looks like, you have to imagine the structure of a rodent. A small hole or dent in the ground covered with grass or moss.
Inside the nest, things can seem a little disorganized. Remember when I said before that bumblebees like to be messy and cozy? Well, the way they arrange their nests is a little different than the way honeybees do.
If you look inside a bee hive, you will see that all the hexagonal cells are arranged in an orderly manner. Suffice to say, everything is space-efficient so you can store as much honey and brood as possible. Bumblebee nests, on the other hand, look messy.
Everything is on top of each other, and their cells that store brood, honey and pollen are a mess. The queen sits in the middle, where most of the new eggs are laid.
Bumblebee workers try to stay chaotic and disease-free. Every time a bumblebee gets sick or dies, they take it out of the nest. It’s also one of the hallmarks of a cave – if you see dead bees in the grass, you’re close.
What to do if you find a bumblebee nest?
As I said above, bumblebee’s nests are not easy to find. If you find it, it’s best to leave it alone. Bumblebees are known for their gentle nature, but they can become defensive if you get too close.
Sometimes, queen hornets decide to place their nests very close to humans. If you have allergies or have children, it’s best to try moving it. Getting too close to their nest, breathing on it or towards it will trigger the emergence of a clump of males.
Don’t worry, the hornets won’t swarm and probably won’t chase you, but they will sting if you don’t walk away.
If the nest is too close, call a professional who can remove it. After removing it, be sure to clean the area with a disinfectant.
Bees generally use their sense of smell to locate themselves, and other bees are likely to find nests and nests. Clean the area and seal cracks and crevices to prevent this.
One of the worst things you can do is tamper with the nest. If you take off the cover, hit it with a stick, or try to step on it, you’ll just get stabbed.
Bumblebees are very important to our environment. They pollinate flowers and vegetables, among other things, so killing them or destroying their nests is not a good idea.
If the nests are in the corners of your yard or other places that don’t pose a threat to you, leave them out. Bumblebees don’t live long, and as soon as the weather turns cold, the colony disappears.
Bumblebees are known for their gentle nature. They don’t live in huge colonies, and figuring out where bumblebees live can be a daunting task. Their dens are usually underground in rodent burrows, but if you do find one, leave it alone if possible.