Scientific name: Bombus
Scientific name: Bombus
Appearance: Generally striped yellow and black, but can also have splashes of red and/or white. Some bumblebees are all brown, some rare species are all black.
Weight: 100-350mg – less than a paperclip
Lifespan: From four weeks to a year
Diet: Pollen and nectar
The reason that bumblebees have declined in the countryside is simple. Bees feed exclusively on pollen and nectar, and there are far fewer flowers in the countryside than there once were. Hedges and marshland have disappeared and unimproved grasslands which are rich in wildflowers have been almost entirely swept away, to be replaced by silage and cereal fields. In relative terms, gardens now provide a valuable flower-rich refuge and as a result have become a stronghold for some bumblebee species. Find out how you can attract bumblebees to your garden by following the links below.
Bumblebees are social insects with an annual life cycle. The queens build nests and lay their first eggs in spring. These eggs hatch to become worker bees, which then help their mother to expand the nest and find food. By mid-summer, when nests can contain several hundred worker bees, queens start to lay both female and male eggs. The females are given extra food as they will become future queens. Eventually, the male bees and the new queens leave the nest to mate and the new queens burrow into the ground to wait out winter. The males, the worker bees and the old queen all die off in the autumn.
Read more about bumblebees
Find out how to attract bumblebees to your garden
Find out how to build a home for bumblebees
Visit the website of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live.”- Albert Einstein. Incredible to think that the fate of mankind lies in the hands of a small insect that no-one notices or cares about. Does the bee really matter that much or was Albert Einstein just saying this for affect? Perhaps he owned the world’s biggest honey farm and wanted people to know it. Well the simple fact is that without the bee the crops of the world would fail. Any crop which is produced from blossom would no longer produce fruit. That’s every fruit tree, vine, fruit bush and bean. Leaving us with root crops only. So, that isn’t going to happen I hear you cry, well Bumblebees are in danger in most developed countries due to destruction of their natural habitat, hedgerows, and the widespread use of pesticides which have destroyed many of the wildflowers. In the United Kingdom, until relatively recently, 19 species of native true bumblebee were recognized. Three have now become extinct and eight are in serious decline. Even a decline in bumblebee numbers would cause large-scale sweeping changes to the countryside, leading to inadequate pollination of plants, which of course will affect everyone. Gardens will deteriate, crops fail, food prices rise and wildflowers would die out. Frightening, but it may not be too late if we act now.