What does a bumblebee look like: where and how long does it live, what does it eat, is there a hive and wintering

What does a bumblebee look like: where and how long does it live, what does it eat, is there a hive and wintering

Bumblebee is an arthropod insect that belongs to the class of winged insects and the real bee family. Insects get their name from the sound they make when they fly. However, many people know what a bumblebee looks like. However, not everyone is familiar with the lifestyle features, social structure, and nutritional nuances of these individuals.

Origin of the species

Bumblebees belong to the order Hymenoptera. They appeared about 30 million years ago. This happened during the Oligocene. However, the remains of insects found from that period are not well preserved.Therefore, scientists do not have clear evidence that individuals belong to this species.

The oldest remains of insects, which definitely belong to bumblebees, belong to the Miocene. Their age is about 20 million years. It is believed that these insects appeared in Asia, and then moved to European countries. After some time, bumblebees also came to America. Over the past 200 years, scientists have managed to find a dozen remains of bumblebees 10-20 million years old. At the same time, the finds were made on different continents.

Description and appearance

Bumblebees belong to the same family as bees. They have a thick, furry body of a fairly large size. Insects are resistant to cold. Their body has a thick furry cover. In addition, insects can often reduce muscle tissue. This gives them the ability to quickly raise the temperature to +40 degrees. Therefore, in nature, insects are able to live even in the tundra and in mountainous regions.

The body length of females reaches 1.3-2.8 centimeters, and males - 0.7-2.4. The largest species of bumblebee is considered to be the Asian giant, which is found in the eastern regions of Asia and Japan. Its body reaches 5 centimeters in length, and its wingspan is 8.

The structure and appearance of the torso differ depending on the gender. Females have an elongated head with a rounding. In this case, the upper lip has a rectangular shape. The hind legs have a shiny and smooth surface. There is also a basket for collecting nectar and pollen. Males have an oval or triangular head with fine punctures. At the same time, the hind legs expand from above.

The structure of the oral apparatus of bumblebees includes a long trunk measuring 7-19 millimeters. Insects also have powerful jaws. Only females have a sting. The body of bumblebees usually has a yellow-black tint and is covered with stripes. In this case, the lower part has a white tint.However, there are individuals with red and orange stripes or a completely black body.

The life span of these insects is short. On average, it is no more than 2 weeks. The death of insects occurs for various reasons. Most often, they wear out quickly, as they try to collect more nectar. The males die after mating. Young fertilized females live the longest. However, they sleep most of the time.

Bumblebees are considered non-aggressive insects. They sting humans only when the nest is threatened or harmed. At the same time, bumblebee stings are very painful. If this happens, it is important to help the person. At home, you should do the following:

  • treat the bite with an antiseptic or wash with soap and water;
  • apply cool vinegar compress;
  • give the victim a warm drink;
  • take an antihistamine.

Where it lives and what it eats

Bumblebees form families, which include 100-200 individuals. In this case, all insects are divided into several groups:

  • working individuals;
  • large females that lay eggs;
  • drones that are inseminating.

In regions with short summers, insects live alone. The fact is that they do not have time to form a family in a short period of time. Nests are located in the ground, nests, burrows, hollows. They consist of honeycombs and cocoons of pupae. At the same time, bumblebee nests are not arranged as smoothly as bee nests. They tend to look messy.

Insects feed on plant pollen and nectar. In search of food, working bumblebees are able to fly at a speed of 18 kilometers per hour. To move the nectar, insects use spurs with villi, which form a special basket. One bumblebee can carry as much nectar as it weighs.

The larvae eat not only nectar and pollen, but also honey.

In the absence of nearby honey plants, insects feed on plant sap.


Bumblebee nests are in different places:

  • Underground - where most insects live. They build dwellings in the holes of various rodents and molehills. Moreover, the mouse smell attracts female bumblebees. To insulate nests, individuals use wool, dry grass and other materials.
  • On the ground - in this case, the nests are located in the grass, in bird nests, under the remains of plants.
  • Above the ground - bumblebees live in hollows, buildings, birdhouses.

The shape of the socket depends on the cavity in which it is created. Ground structures are usually distinguished by a spherical shape. Moss and dry grass are used to warm the nest. Insects also strengthen their dwellings with wax, which is secreted with the help of special abdominal glands.

Bumblebees are able to maintain a constant temperature in the nest at +30-35 degrees. If the parameters are increased too much, the insects begin to flap their wings strongly near the entrance to the dwelling. This helps improve ventilation.

Features of character and lifestyle

Bumblebees are social individuals, so they usually live as a family.Its structure includes queens, males and working individuals. Families live in large nests. The number of 1 family has about 100-200 individuals. They live together for a year. Then some individuals create new families, while others hibernate.

Bumblebees lead a fairly active lifestyle. Each member of the family performs specific functions. Worker insects look for food, feed the larvae, protect housing. The queen lays eggs, and the drones fertilize the females.

These insects are calm and non-aggressive.

They don't just attack people. A bumblebee can only bite if there is danger.

Social structure and reproduction

The social structure of bumblebees resembles that of a bee. Their main individual is the uterus. She is responsible for creating a family and at the initial stage she is engaged in building a dwelling and laying eggs.This is followed by males and workers, who subsequently feed offspring and get food.

Female fertilization occurs in the spring. Immediately after that, they begin to actively absorb food. Enhanced nutrition is required for the uterus to produce he althy offspring. After that, the female begins to look for a place to lay eggs. At the same time, eggs ripen in her ovaries. After the optimal place is found, the female begins building a dwelling.

A queen can lay 16 eggs at a time. They have an elongated shape and reach a maximum of 4 millimeters. After 6 days, larvae appear. They pupate after 20 days. It takes 18 days for a cocoon to mature. This means that adult insects appear 30 days after oviposition.

When the uterus dies, the family does not cease to exist. The functions of the main bumblebee individual are taken over by working insects, which can also lay eggs.

Natural enemies

The real threat to bumblebees is ants. They steal honey from females, steal eggs and larvae. Bumblebees find it difficult to deal with these pests, so they try to build their nests above the ground or place them in rodent burrows with many passages that are difficult for ants to get into.

Some species of wasps steal bumblebee brood or insect honey. This is what brachycomas do. Cannabis flies are also considered very dangerous for bumblebees. They attack insects in flight and stick their eggs to them. After that, a larva appears from them, which eats the carrier.

Bumblebee moths are considered a dangerous enemy, they destroy eggs and larvae. Insect females are attacked by parasitic spherular nematode worms. In this case, insects die before the nest is built.

Also, Hyphomycete mushrooms pose a real danger to females. Gamasid mites are often found in bumblebee nests. Of the birds, the golden bee-eater is a danger. She eats insects while collecting nectar. Bumblebee nests are often ravaged by hedgehogs, foxes and dogs.

Population and species status

The bumblebee is considered a valuable pollinator that has a positive impact on human agricultural activities and is very important for all nature. Insects effectively pollinate different types of plants.

These individuals are considered universal. In addition, they work much faster than bees. An important point is the pollination of clover, alfalfa and legumes by bumblebees.

The population of such insects is considered to be very numerous. Currently, there are more than 300 species of bumblebees. At the same time, they live in large numbers on almost all continents except Antarctica. Bumblebees multiply rapidly and skillfully disguise themselves. Some farmers even breed them for agricultural purposes. All these factors help to maintain a stable population of individuals.

Bumblebee protection

Despite the impressive population of insects, a number of their representatives belong to endangered species. Some breeds of bumblebees are dying out, because they were listed in the Red Books.

Negative impact on the population of these individuals is affected by the following:

  • significant environmental degradation;
  • activity of natural enemies;
  • food shortage;
  • ruin of bumblebee nests by humans.

Armenian bumblebees are considered a rare species, which were listed in the Red Books of Russia and Ukraine. These insects pollinate legumes and composite crops. They live in mountain steppes, forest-steppe zones, on the outskirts of forests - in the zone of pine growth. The common bumblebee is also included in the Red Book of Russia. A few of these individuals still remain in a number of regions of the country.

Although a number of varieties of bumblebees are included in the Red Books, no active measures are taken to preserve their population. This is due to the existence of many other varieties. In general, bumblebees are not critically endangered. At the same time, in order to preserve rare species, it is recommended to limit agricultural activities in their habitats, impose a ban on making fires and reduce livestock grazing.

Bumblebees are considered beneficial insects that are universal pollinators. They do not harm people and do not show aggression. Bumblebees are widely distributed throughout the world and are able to tolerate cold climates. Some breeds of these unique insects have already been included in the Red Books, so they need careful attention from people.

This page in other languages: