Bees And Bumblebees

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Why do I see in my garden all bumblebees and hardly no bees? I have noticed in New England this year there are an abundance of bumblebees and hardly any bees. Can anyone on this forum explain the reason this is so?


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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Dora-This is a great question but one that may be hard to come up with an exact answer to. From what I know most locations like my own always have a smaller population of bumble bees than that of the honey and other bees. This is mainly because the bumple bee colonies usually die off in the fall with only the queen bee hybernating through the winter then laying eggs to produce a new colony in the spring. Their colonies are much smaller than those of the honey bees with normally only a couple hundred bees compared to the honey bee colonies of up to a couple of thousand. All types or species of bees have been declining in numbers here in the U.S. for several reasons the biggest reason being the use of certain pesticides used in agriculture and home gardens. There are a few things I thought may be the reason for more bumble bees this year but I'm not an expert or have a lot of knowledge of bees. Don't take my reasons as being a definite correct answer to your question. Hopefully others with more knowledge of these bees can help with an answer also.

The bumble bees rarely travel far in search of a food source. They are more efficient at acquiring food and pollinating because they have a longer tongue that can collect food and carry pollen from more types and shapes of flowers than that of the honey bees. Possibly there are less types of flowers this year that would normally attract the honey bees. Weather may have something to do with the decline in the honey bees numbers also. This year here in Southern California I too have seen a lot less honey bees in my gardens. Even the cutter bee population has been extremely light this year. We are still having a horrible drought which is affecting the amount of plants flowering as well as they normally would. Although the number of bumble bees has always been less than that of the honey bees their numbers don't seem to have been affected as much. Maybe because they will gather food from many of the flowers the honey bees don't normally visit. I have read where bumble bees can regulate their body temperatures therefore I'm thinking they can handle cooler and or warm drought conditions better than the honey bees. Inclement weather can also affect the movements of honey bees more so than that of the bumble bees. During cloudy moist mornings or hot windy afternoons the honey bees are very seldom seen in my gardens but the bumble bees don't seem to be affected by these weather conditions. Its amazing how well I have seen them go from flower to flower in pretty strong winds. The Agapanthus flower clusters can be blowing from side to side and the bumble bees are just hanging in like there is no wind at all. Possibly there is more sites available this year for the bumble bees to nest in. They prefer to inhabit dry, protected areas in or near the ground such as abandoned holes in the ground or under decks or porches. They will nest in cracks or crevices of rocks or areas of overgrown grasses. Most of us here in California allow our grasses to grow taller and cut lawns higher in the summer months to keep the soil from drying out more quickly. This may be a place for the bees to nest in near the ground and protected from the taller grass. Our wood piles, dead tree trunks, or things such as tarps laying on the ground are great places for the bumble bees to build nests. These are just a few things I can think of that may be the reason you are seeing more bumble bees and less honey bees this year. Besides our bee populations declining because of certain pesticide and herbicide usage weather seems to be a large factor in determining the bee population each year. Harsh winter condition and or drought conditions can greatly affect the bees population. It looks as though New England has had drought conditions, some locations sever, which may be why the honey bee population this year has been affected. You might want to contact your local Cooperative Extension Service also with this question. They may know of the reason for the decline of the honey bee population or the rise in the number of bumble bees this year in your location. Please let me know if you find anything new. I'm sure this would be most interesting to many members.

Please ask if you have any other questions.

John)


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Dora Federico

Dora Federico · Gardenality Seedling · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts on my question. I have read couple of articles concerning the bees and how there seems to be less and less of them. Have you heard of this site:http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/? It's a nationwide group that is trying to save the bees by encouraging people to plant flower gardens with flowers that bees love. You can post a picture of your garden on the site.

3 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Thanks Dora. Looks like a great site and one that tells all how to join in making the survival of our pollinators much easier. Thanks again, John

3 years ago ·
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