Most people do not realize that there were no honey bees in America when European settlers brought hives from Europe. These resourceful animals promptly managed to escape from domestication. Even in today’s vastly altered landscapes, they continue to do the yeomen’s share of pollination, especially when it comes to native plants. The honeybee, remarkable as it is, does not know how to pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers.
It does very poorly compare to native bees when pollinating many native plants, such as pumpkins, watermelons, blueberries, and cranberries. They are also varied in their lifestyles, the places they frequent, the nests they build, the flowers they visit, and their season of activity. They remain ignored or unknown by most of us. Yet, they provide an invaluable ecosystem service, pollination, to 80 percent of flowering plants.
The female workers hatch and work together to feed and care for the colony until fall when the colony dies out and a new queen emerges. She mates and hibernates until the following spring when the cycle begins anew.
“Bumblee bee name derives from the sound they made by their wings”.
The remarkable arctic bumblebee, which lives within the Arctic Circle? The queens begin raising their first brood while there is still frost on the ground, sometimes spending hours shivering their flight muscles while pressed against their brood cells, covering and providing heat for her young. This physical activity and the heat it produced warm the waxen brood cells, speeding the development of their larvae.
Bumblebees (bumble-bee, or humble-bee) and a few other insects are warm-blooded animals. They can be powerhouses producing energy by rapidly flexing their flight muscles. When queens emerge in late winter to early spring, they spend long hours in their nests shivering to generate the heat to rear early broods.
This intense effort requires a lot of fuel, so they depend upon the early-flowering willows and maples to provide plentiful amounts of nectar. Finally, after taking care of her initial brood, the queen is relieved of her external foraging duties by her new daughters. The old queen never leaves the nest again.
There are more than 50 species bumblebees are found in North America. However, they are a group of about 250 species, now placed in a single genus, Bombus although; many human beings are familiar with bumblebees. Therefore, they’re large, furry, and typically black with stripes of yellow, white, or even bright orange.
Bumblebees have some things in common with honey bees. They are friendlier than most other native bees, forming colonies with one queen and several workers. However, bumblebee colonies are not big or as long-lived as those of honey bees.
Bumblebees are ground nesters with most making their nests in an underground cavity created by small animals. The cavities they need for their nests are larger than those of solitary bees, so the first thing that a young queen does in the spring is to find an abandoned mouse nest or a similar burrow. Then she starts preparing it for her brood.
She builds a few wax cells that she fills up with pollen and honey. Once provisioned the queen lays her eggs, laying no more than half a dozen at first. These eldest offspring are all sterile female workers. Once this brood is fully grown, the queen rarely leaves the nest again and spends all her time laying more eggs while the workers take care of all the activities in and out of the nest. A female Morrison’s bumblebee (Bombus morrisoni) is from tine western states.
The colony grows rapidly, and it can reach a population of a few hundred workers. The workers are usually smaller than the queen. It is after her first brood emerges that you will occasionally see large bumble bees foraging. Near the end of the summer, the queen lays male eggs in addition to female ones. The females born at this time become queens, not sterile workers, and they soon mate with the males after emerging from the nest.
All workers, male bumblebees, and the old queen die at the end of summer. The only survivors are the new queens, which have already mated. They find a secluded hideaway to spend the winter and go to sleep (a type of insect hibernation known as diapause). Then as winter gives way to spring and the willows begin to flower, the queens emerge, and each will find a new colony.
Bumblebees and honeybees both have pollen baskets, called corbiculae, on their hind legs. Hence, they’re more specialized than the pollen baskets of other bees, which are often called scopae. In honey bees and bumblebees, the tibia segment of the hind leg is flattened, with rows of long, strong hairs along the edges.
The shape of these baskets allows them to pack pollen, mixed with some nectar and saliva, into a tight mass called a corbicular pellet rather than the loose dusting of pollen grains clinging to the hairs of the scopae of other bee species. Bumblebees are so effective at pollinating tomatoes that their buzz pollination services are put to good use in large greenhouses that grow tomatoes year-round.
All that is needed is a queen, a box for the nest, and a supply of sugar water because tomatoes produce abundant pollen but no nectar. The bumblebees are free to come and go but remain inside the greenhouse most of the time. Bumblebees and their pollination services are a key component in agriculture.
They are important pollinators of some clovers, a forage crop for cattle. Bumblebees use buzz pollination when pollinating tomato flowers. Other flowering plants that require buzz pollination include cranberries and blueberries, eggplants, and other plant species in the family Solanaceae.
If you want to attract bumble bee then the following plants may help you a lot.
Spring and Early Summer
Winter heath, flowering currant, willow, lungwort, Pieris, gean (wild cherry), rhododendron, sycamore, maple leaf, yellow orchangel, bugle, perennial cornflower, bistort, broom.
Raspberry, bramble, wild rose, thyme, sage, marjoram, lavender, catmint, purple loosestrife, clovers, vetches, broad bean, foxglove, stonecrop, honeysuckle, buddleia, thistles, scabious, chives, columbine,
Late Summer and Autumn
Borage, ice-plant, woundwart, monk’s-hood, snowberry, bistort, tutsan.