Bumblebees in Southern California
With more than 255 species around the globe, bumblebees are large and robust insects covered with dense branched setae (hairs). They have short stubby wings and are beneficial as pollinators for many kinds of crops. Bumblebee wings beat at least 130 times per second. This beating helps vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit, which is why the bumblebee is such an essential part of our environment
The only bumblebees to survive winter are the queens. They hibernate in the soil in a location that will not warm up too quickly or too early in the spring (to avoid a potentially lethal early emergence). After emerging from an overwintering site, alone queen seeks out a suitable site to begin a new colony.
Bumblebees construct their nests out of clay or mud. Most nest in the ground using tunnels or burrow created by other animals, such as rodents. They also will inhabit shallow cavities excavated beneath patio stones, landscaping timber, piles of compost, and within dense patches of grass. Above ground, they will occupy abandoned bird nests and fiberglass-insulated structural voids associated with outside walls, patio roofing, and decks. Bumblebees live in smaller colonies than most types of stinging insects, with anywhere from 50 to 400 bees in a nest with one queen bee.
Bumblebees are peaceful insects and only sting when provoked. Most stings happen when their nest is disturbed. Only female bumblebees sting and unlike honey bees, they can sting more than once. Bumblebees can sting multiple times, but they do not form swarms like honey bees. The pain from a bumblebee sting is less painful than a honey bee sting, however, a sting can be dangerous if it occurs on the head or neck, or if an individual is allergic to their venom.
If you notice a growing number of stinging insects in or near your property, always contact your local pest control company for assistance.
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