God's Little FolkBumble Bees (Bombus)
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Bumble Bees (Bombus) -
One of God's Little Folk
Table of Contents

Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 01
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 01) This bumble bee came to visit the begonia growing in one of our window boxes, and to gather some of the nectar and pollen.  Around the world, there are over 250 known species of bumble bees, which are primarily in the Northern Hemisphere.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 01a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 01a) This is a closer look at the bumble bee on the begonia. Bumble bees are larger than honey bees, but like honey bees they are social insects.  They can be identified by their robust body, which is covered with black and yellow hairs (setae), often in bands. On the internet we saw reference to some species that have orange or red hairs on their bodies, or they may be entirely black. The abundant hair makes bumble bees appear and feel fuzzy. They are best distinguished from similarly large, fuzzy bees by the form of the female hind leg, which is modified to form a corbicula; a shiny concave surface that is bare, but surrounded by a fringe of hairs used to transport pollen (in similar bees, the hind leg is completely hairy, and pollen grains are wedged into the hairs for transport). Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 02
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 02) This bumble bee has climbed up deep inside a short-spur columbine flower to eat some of the nectar. Bumble bees usually nest in holes in the ground or in other cavities. The nests are first constructed by over-wintered queens in the spring. Upon emerging from hibernation, the bumble bee queen collects pollen and nectar from flowers and searches for a suitable new nest site. They rarely return to their old nest site. Bumble bee nests a much smaller that honey bee nests, and usually average less than 200 bees. Once the queen has found a site, she prepares wax pots to store food and wax cells into which eggs are laid.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 02a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 02a) This is a closer look at the bumble bee in the columbine flower.  The bumble bee queen as a very interesting way of selecting the sex of her offspring.  In a fertilized queen the ovaries are activated, and when the queen lays her egg, they passes along the oviduct to the vagina. In the vagina there is a container called the spermatheca. This is where the queen stored sperm from her mating. Before she lays an egg she will decide whether to use sperm from the spermatheca to fertilize it or not. Non-fertilized eggs grow into males, and only fertilized eggs grow into females and queens.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 03
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 03) This bumble bee is feeding on an aster in the early Autumn. Like honey bees, bumble bees live in a colony where the adults care for the young (larvae), all of whom are produced by a single queen. Iowa State University goes on to say that the queen's first brood of offspring, (5 to 20), will all be workers (daughters) who take over the colony responsibilities of nest enlargement, food gathering and storage, and feeding and caring for the larvae. The queen continues to lay eggs throughout the summer. By late summer, new reproductive males and females (kings and queens) are produced. These mate on the wing and the fertilized females move to hibernation sites in the shelter of loose bark, hollow trees or other dry, protected places to lie dormant through the winter. The males and workers still in the colony die with frost or the first hard freeze.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 03a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 03a) This is a close up look at the bumble bee on the aster, and in this photo, we have a good view of her transparent wings. Another interesting thing we learned by the internet references is that bumble bees do not have ears, and it is not known whether or how a bumblebee could hear sound waves passing through the air, however they can feel the vibrations of sounds through wood and other materials.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 04
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 04) This bumble bee came to feed on some knap weed flowers.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 04a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 04a) This is a closer look at the bumble bee feeding on the knap weed flower.  Unlike honey bees, who continue to collect and store pollen and nectar in the autumn to sustain the colony over the winter, the bumble bees only feed themselves, the queen and the hive workers until they die with the first killing frost.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 05
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 05) This bumble bee came to feed on our lilac flowers in the spring of the year.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 05a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 05a) This is a close up of the bumble bee with wings blurred like a helicopter rotor.  Note the extended tongue of the bee, as it prepared to insert it into a lilac flower.  Like all bee tongues, the bumble bee tongue (the proboscis) is composed of many different mouthparts acting as a unit, specialized to suck up nectar via capillary action. At rest or when flying the proboscis is kept folded under the head.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 06
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 06) This bumble bee is working her way into a cluster of lilac flowers.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 07
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 07) This bee continues her visit to the many lilac flowers.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 07a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 07a) In this closer look at our bumble bee friend, we can see that she is starting to collect pollen grains in the hairs on her hind legs.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 08
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 08) In this photo we can see the bumble bee feeding on the nectar of a lilac flower.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 08a
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 08a) In this close up look at our friend bumble bee, we focused on the fluffy hairs on her back.  In all of our photography, we have never found bumble bees to be aggressive, which is a way of showing us that we can live in peace with all of God's creatures, if we want to.
Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 09
(Bumble Bee (Bombus) - 09) This is another look at a bumble bee that has worked her way into a cluster of lilac flowers.

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lamb-right lamb-left Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.