Summary: Bumblebees are the one and only insect that comes close to what I would consider œcute. Bumblebees are a handsome black and yellow color, and furry, so you almost want to give one a hug. Even their short stinger seems to be part of the bumblebee's charm, like a puppy dog's tail.
Bumblebees are insects I have no beef with. They are furry, which seems uncommon for an insect, although in reality even cockroaches are covered in tiny hairs. The bumblebee, quite understandably, likes to hang out around flowers. They are important pollinators and their distinctive buzzing sound is reminiscent of springtime. Even their scientific name is pleasant. Bombus terrestris has a nice ring to it, don't you think? (Compare that to the Cockroaches' order, Blattodea, yuck¦)
Bumblebees are large compared to honeybees. They look a lot like carpenter bees, but they have a furry abdomen whereas carpenter bees do not. Bumblebees are social insects that build small nests underground or in clumps of grass. They feed on nectar and collect pollen, but they do not make honey that is used for human consumption.
They usually live at higher altitudes and in colder climates than other bees. They regulate their body temperature because their hairiness keeps them warm, and they can warm themselves by moving their wing muscles. This is required before they are able to fly, and in cold weather several minutes of this are needed before the flight of the bumblebee. The wing muscle movement is what creates their buzzing sound, not the movement of the wings though the air.
In cold weather a bumblebee might drop off a flower if something big, like you, gets too close. It looks like it just had an accident, but it is actually raising its body temperature. If you see a grounded bumblebee during the winter there's a good chance it is a queen. You can help it by moving it to a warmer location if you are in a compassionate mood.
Bumblebees pollinate important crops like potatoes and tomatoes as well as fruit like raspberries and blueberries. There is concern over the decreasing populations of bumblebees in the United States and Europe. Loss of habitat and exposure to pesticides are the most frequently cited causes. Avoid spraying pesticides in your garden where bumble bees inhabit.
Bumblebees are not aggressive and they rarely sting unless provoked. They don't like to be breathed on and if you get too close to a sitting bumblebee, it will raise one of its middle legs into the air. This is a signal to give it space. (I think I'll try that move when I'm annoyed by someone.) The stinger of a bumble is not barbed like that of a honeybee, so if you really tick it off it can sting multiple times. The venom is capable of causing an allergic reaction that won't be a lot of fun for you. The bumblebee is a peaceful creature, but it will defend itself.
The queen bumblebee is the only bumble bee that lives through the winter. She makes a new nest place in the spring and begins to lay her eggs in abandoned burrows of rodents or other small animals, or in large clumps of grass. They do not make hives like honey bees. If you find a bumble bee nest while gardening or mowing your lawn the best thing to do is leave it alone! The bees are beneficial to the environment. Flowers depend on them and the bees will attack if you mess with the nest. Let them bee. (ha-ha, get it?).
If you absolutely must eliminate a bumblebee nest, first find out exactly where it is and where the entrance hole is located. Any pest control method you choose should be done at night when the bees are less active and more likely in the nest. They don't see well in the dark so are less likely to sting. If you really know what you are doing you can move the nest to a different location by placing it in a container like a shoebox. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and a mask to move the bees by this humane method. Be quiet and gentle, and don't shine a light directly onto the nest. Of course, if you really knew what to do you would not be reading this article.
If you cannot find someone who knows about moving bees and you have no other choice you can use a deltamethrin dust like Delta Dust and a duster to spread the dust into the nest. Bee killing aerosols like Wasp Freeze can also be used. Again, do this at night, and wear protective clothing. If you cannot see where the entrance to the nest is you, like ninety percent of the population, are probably going to spray down the general vicinity of the nest. It might work, but it is certainly not the most environmentally friendly way to get control.
Haphazard treatments can be bad news for children, pets, vegetable gardens and beneficial insects. Maybe you should think about calling a professional to do the job.