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The Humble Bumble
July 23, 2018


Rain, we finally received a good soaking, measurable amount of rain.

A healthy 2 inches (2.5 cm), of rain over the weekend.

Prayers for our tornado ravaged friends in Iowa and other stricken regions.

Prayers and relief for the regions dealing with wildfires,
and other disasters .

Pictured is a raindrop resting on a Salvia.

This picture was taken Saturday from the family room window.

As fast as some species of birds fledge, they seem to disappear.

Last Saturday the Tree Swallows fledged, and I have seen no signs of them.

A week after fledging and some parental training, the Baltimore orioles are no more.

Remaining are the fledged chickadees, young cardinals and robins have joined in the fracas.

All the bird activity makes for an exciting time of year.

Even as the daylight continues to shrink.

Pictured below are the Girls, sporting fresh hairdos, bow included.

Also pictured is the moon and Venus from last week Monday.

You get a good view of the 'Earth Shine' in this picture.

Besides the bright disk reflection from the sun, the majority darker part of the disk is indeed sun reflection back to the moon.

Thus, we have 'Earth Shine'.

Listen up.

(Snick, Snick in the kitchen.)

This is Karen's and my long weekend.

Our yearly event where we spend several days in the Petoskey, MI. are.

We relax, shop, do several tourist type things.

We also visit a dear friend.

She owned and ran the B&B we used to visit for 25 years.

She is elderly and grew i'll a couple years ago.

We remain fast friends and visit when we go north.

Anyway ..........

We will be gone from July 26 - July 30.

No time for a newsletter next week.

Yolanda will spend her respite time at 'Hope Network'.

The fur kids will be well cared for.

This week I'm going to touch on the Humble Bumble Bee.

I write on the Humble Bumble often.

They are a very important part of our native pollinators.

Possibly more than you realize.

It may be a bit long, but there are some interesting things.

Do read the web page too.

The Humble Bumble.


Bumble Bees (Bombus species):

Bumble Bees, or Bumblebees (both are correct), are large, attractive insects that are of interest to children, scientists, beekeepers, naturalists, conservationist, home gardeners, farmers and commercial bumble bee breeders.

There are roughly 250 species worldwide, 50 species of Bumble bees that inhabit virtually the whole North American Continent which vary in size and coloration.

These highly beneficial insects pollinate many native plants, home-grown fruits and vegetables and agricultural crops.

Though Bumble bees are highly social insects, their colonies are not perennial in nature as honey bees.

They do not store a surplus of honey, which can be harvested.

Bumble bee populations in nature fluctuate from year to year depending on many factors including weather, parasites and predators.


They're big, fuzzy insects recognized by almost everyone by their robust shape and black and yellow coloration.

The common species are 3/4 inch in length or more. Like honey bees, Bumble bees live in a colony where the adults care for the young (larvae) produced by a single queen.

Bumble bee nests are small compared to honey bees, as each nest contains at peak season contains from about one hundred to a few hundred individuals.

Also unlike honey bees, a bumble bee nest is annual and is used only one year and then abandoned.

Bumble bees usually nest in the ground in a deserted mouse nest or bird nest.

Occasionally they nest in cavities within a wall or an old wood pile.

The Bumble bee's black or yellow hairy abdomen, which is a character that can be used to differentiate it from a carpenter bee, which has a black, shiny, hairless abdomen.

The foraging Bumble has a large pollen basket on each hind leg that is often loaded with pollen.

The Bumble bee queens are typically twice a large as workers or males.

A female Bumble bee has a pointed abdomen with a stinger.

Males do not have a stinger and the tip of the abdomen is rounded.

Life Cycle:

The Bumble bee colony is made up of three types of individuals (queen, undeveloped female workers and males).

Bumble bees produce annual colonies, only the mated queens over winter (survive the winter).

Nests are started in early spring by these solitary, fertilized queens.

These queens are often seen feeding on spring flowers or searching for a suitable nest site.

Normally, nests are established in an abandoned rodent nest in the ground.

The solitary queen begins the colony by collecting pollen and forming it into a small lump.

She lays five to twenty worker eggs on this pollen.

After four to five days, the eggs hatch into larvae (immature forms), which begin to feed on the lump of pollen.

The young larvae receive all the fats, minerals, proteins and vitamins that are necessary for growth from the pollen.

The queen collects more pollen and nectar to feed this first brood cycle.

It takes about 21 days to develop from egg to adult.

Once the first brood develops, they take over all the colony duties, except egg laying.

The adult workers defend the colony, collect pollen and nectar, and feed the larvae.

Maintaining Dominance:

Bumble bee queens appear to maintain dominance purely by aggressive behavior.

Though it is believed that a dominant queen secretes a pheromone that suppresses the glands in workers that would otherwise lead to their ovaries developing.

In many species the queen is bigger than the workers, she uses her size to dominate workers by opening her mandibles and head-butting the most dominant worker from time to time.

This is usually sufficient until unfertilized eggs are laid, or a worker's ovaries develop.

Although Bumble bees produce nectar, the quantity produced is not enough to make it worth while domesticating them as has been done with honey bees.

Nectar is collected and stored in small sac-like "honey pots" built from wax and pollen.

The workers enlarge the nest and by midsummer the colony will have up to 100 workers.

By late summer, the colony may have several hundred Bumbles.

The colony produces new queens and males in late summer.

They leave the nest to take mating flights that look like aerial dances.

The successfully mated queens fly to the ground and hibernate 2 to 5 inches deep in the soil.

The production signals the end of the colony’s life.

The over wintering queens emerge the next spring to complete their life cycle.

Feeling threatened:

Most of our native bees are rather docile and will only sting when you try to catch them or threaten a nest.

How do you know if you are upsetting a Bumble bee?

Bumble bees are busy and will ignore you unless you do something to make the bee feel threatened.

Even then, the Humble Bumble will let you know in its own way.

It's quite simple really.

If the bee is on a flower or other surface and is feeling threatened it will raise one of its middle legs.

This is a sign that you are too close and should back off a bit.

Sometimes when I pet Bumble bees it will raise the middle leg and other times she is slow to do so.

Petting one of these hairy insects is quite easy to do on cool days.

In cool weather the bee may even fall to the ground to avoid you, as it hasn't built up enough heat to fly off.

Sometimes a Bumble will let out a high pitched buzz to let me know its now or never.

Still, this is mostly a bluff.

Male Behavior:

Eventually they leave when hormones and nature come calling.

Now as bachelors, they will find a place to sleep often hanging underneath the heads of flowers, or even getting right into them (larger flowers).

Their temperatures will drop and by morning they will have used up their stores of energy, so until they warm up by either drinking nectar or sitting in the sun or both, they will appear listless and sick.

Actually, they are just males who have spent the day chasing queens and drinking nectar and then stayed out all night.

Some guys never learn, even in the animal kingdom.

The Humble Bumble Bee:

To big and clumsy to fly according to science.

Not aerodynamic and other silly things.

Yes, science tried to prove that, without taking into consideration, the muscular flight muscles within the bulky body.

Bumblebees How Do They Fly?

(Never under estimate our Creator, however.)

Bumble bees are often the earliest bees out of hibernation in early spring and some of the last bees we see in the cool of Autumn.

You may think it is the fat hairy body that keep the bumble bee warm so it can withstand the cools of Spring and Fall.

In fact, the Bumble bee is unique, it shivers much like we do to warm up its body temperature and to stay warm.

The cooler the body temperature, the faster the bee vibrates to warm up.

Bumble bees seem to prefer the color purple, but see in Ultra Violet which means they see colors we can't see and explains why they fly to our yellow and white vegetable garden flowers.

Okay, so why are Bumble bees the Prime pollinator of my tomato plants?

The best pollinator for tomatoes is the Bumble bee which "sonicated" at the resonant frequency of the flower.

Sonication, also called buzz pollination is when the bee vibrates its wing muscles but doesn't fly; it just hangs on.

The bumble bee latches on to the flower and proceeds to buzz at the right frequency.

The reason is that tomato pollen is not in the exterior of the anthers like most flowers, rather it is produced internally and then released thru pores in the anther.

Motion is required to release the pollen, and the greatest quantity is released by sonication of the correct frequency.

Called The 'Buzz Technique'.


Since Bumble Bees are Great Pollinators, we should encourage management strategies that help maintain and increase wild colonies.

Bumbles bees’ natural nesting habitat has been drastically decreased by industrial and residential expansion.

Large farm monoculture practices are also detrimental to good nesting sites.

A way to encourage bumble bee nesting is to set aside uncultivated farm land or hedgerows that are attractive to queens searching for nesting sites.

Queens are not too selective as long as the potential nesting site is a dark, underground cavity filled with fine plant fiber.

Acceptable nest sites include a burrow beneath an old tree stump or an abandoned rodent nest.

The aggressive use of pesticides and herbicides, along with GMOs has taken a toll on all of our pollinators.

By eliminating these from your gardens, you can help the bees while they are helping you.

Well, it is time for me to Buzz or, I mean fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world".

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Quotes from Jesus.

"What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them."

Matthew 15:11

"But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them".

Matthew 15:18

The Psalmist,

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me".

Psalm 51:10

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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