Back to Back Issues Page
Bumble Bees
October 30, 2017

Watch out for the young one Wednesday, as many in America are out Trick or Treating.

We enter November later this week, my how time flies by.

After a very dry and drought stricken summer around here, South west Michigan rebounds with the wettest October on record.

Weather has delayed me from getting all the fall chores done are here before the white stuff comes.

My neck is still an issue, but seems a bit better right now.

Thank you for all your prayers (never question the power of prayer).

The trees that haven't dropped their leaves, or turned brown are showing some color now.

Muted colors, but it is something.

Stress from the dry weather and then the late heat wave messed with Autumn around her.

All is well with Karen and Yolanda.

The fur kids, well they are kids.

Even getting into trouble when they shouldn't.

As I mentioned, the first of November is approaching, this is always a good time to clean feeders and water sources.

For us northern folk, you may consider one last good and thorough cleaning before the weather sets in.

Some of you may want to move feeders closer to your home, so treks into the deep aren't so stressful on you.

However, always make sure there is protection within 10 feet (3 m.) for your feathered friend to escape danger.

Have you checked your birdbath heater?

Make sure the wiring and GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter), is in working order.

As Nature's bounty begins to dwindle, you will notice more birds visiting.

If you don't have feeders out, but plan on winter feeding, I suggest you place feeders as soon as possible.

Birds have already established feeding routes in their territory, yet will check out new one.

Not only do birds know who offers the good food, they know when feeders are filled.

Yes, you can train birds to come feed when you want them too.

Last week was the Honeybee, this week we prepare the Bumble Bee for winter.


Bumble Bees
(genus Bombus).

Many of our native bees are specialists and non social, and are visible for short periods of time.

Bumble bees do things differently.

Bumbles are social bees, America's only true social bee.

(While many wasps are social, they aren't true bees, more of the hornet family)

Bumbles are present from early spring, well into the cool days of Autumn.

However, unlike honeybees, bumble bees do not have a perennial nest.

Colonies of bumbles do not live through the winter as colonies.

In autumn the bumble-bee colonies die out and only the young mated queens overwinter (hibernate) by burrowing themselves several inches (centimeters), into the soil.

Males and new queens.

The production of males usually signals the beginning of the end of the co-operation and organisation of the nest.

The males drink the stores of honey, but do not forage to replace it.

Males are usually produced once the stores reach a sufficient quantity, or if the queen dies or loses her influence.

When the adult males emerge they spend a few days in the nest, but do no work, and then they leave the nest for good and forage for themselves.

They can often be seen sheltering under the heads of flowers when it rains or when it gets dark.

That is what most of the books say, but recently it has been found that some North American bumble bee males do help in the nest by incubating the young, so their adult life is not just drinking, chasing queens and staying out all night long.

New queens emerge about a week or so after the males.

The new queens leave the nest to forage for themselves, returning to the nest for shelter, but they do not add to the existing nest provisions.

New queens drink lots of nectar to build up their fat body and fill their honey stomach.

This will enable them to survive the winter hibernation, then they find a suitable place to hibernate.

This is why we still see worker bees so busy late into fall.

During hibernation if the temperature falls below a certain point the glycerol is automatically produced in the queen's body.

This is a form of anti-freeze and prevents ice crystals forming which would cause the fluids inside her to expand and her body to burst.

Only queens Bumbles have this ability and the remaining nest dies off.

In the spring, the already mated queen begins to nest, lay eggs and brood her young.

By the end of a summer, a Bumble nest can consist of a couple hundred bees which will die off and the new queens will continue with the species survival.

Bumbles are non aggressive, but will sting when a nest is threatened or the bee itself is handled.

Queen bees can repeat sting, but rarely mess with people or pets.

Like honeybees, workers will string when the nest is attacked, or if you pick one up.

I adore Bumble Bees, they are the true work force in a garden.

From spring well into fall when they temperatures drop, they are still hard at work

At a slower pace, but working when other bee species are not.

You can pet a Bumble Bee, especially on a cool fall day.

I show this to grand kids and other kids, as I try to teach them to respect, but not be afraid of these important creatures.

Because they are non aggressive and slow right now, you can easily stroke a Bumble with a finger.

When the bee gets agitated, it will lift a leg............... when it really gets agitated, it will lift both front legs.

These are warning signs, but I have yet to have a bee chase me because of this activity.

The bumble will simply fly away if she gets too aggravated.

Grand kids think it is pretty cool.

Yes, Bumble bees are the true work force of your garden, often pollinating plants that other bees can't get to.

You may have seen a bumble chewing a hole in a flower to get to the nectar.

Bumble bees are also prime tomato pollinators.

Throughout Europe and parts of North America, Bumble bees are now being used to help pollinate green house crops for our winter consumption.

A strong and vibrant Bumble Bee population in your gardens is always a good thing.

Continue to keep pesticides away from your flowering plants, and nature will thank you in return.

Well, it is time for me to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother".

Theodore Hesburgh

The bible says a few things on love.

'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her".

Ephesians 5:25

Men, are you willing to die for her?

"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.

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.

Back to Back Issues Page