Bumblebee

Actual Size: ¾” –  1”

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

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: 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 bumble bee sting is considered to be one of the most painful stings

Bumblebees in Virginia

Bumblebees are very social insects that live in colonies. They are large and robust, with densely branched setae (hairs) covering their bodies. They have short stubby wings and are beneficial as pollinators for many kinds of crops and ornamentals. According to the National Wildlife Federation, their wings beat at least 130 times per second. The beating helps vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit. Unlike honey bees, bumblebees do not produce honey. Colonies die off in the fall while queen bumblebees overwinter in small holes just beneath or on the ground’s surface.

Bumblebee Nests & Habitat

Compared to many types of stinging insects, bumblebee colonies are small and only contain a dozen to a few hundred workers. 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 & Threats

Bumblebees are peaceful insects and only sting when provoked, often when their nest is threatened or disturbed. Only female bumblebees sting and unlike honey bees, they can sting more than once. Bumblebees can sting multiple times, but they do not form swarms like honeybees. The pain from a bumblebee sting is less painful than a honey bee sting, however, a sting can be dangerous if it occurs on the head or neck, or if an individual is allergic to their venom.

Even though they aren’t as dangerous as other stinging insects, it’s still important to contact your local bee control experts for assistance.