BumbleBees- what's the deal?

Being a fan of nature programs, I’ve seen a whole lot more information about honeybees and how they live than I will ever need to know.

however, I’ve never seen or read a THING about bumblebees! Apart from the fact that they are very large and very black and very scary, I know nothing about them and I’m curious. Do they have hives? Where? Do they make honey? Can they sting? What’s the deal with bumblebees!

I gotta know!

Are YOU ready for Y2K? Take my advice: Panic early and avoid the rush.

Along this same thought, why BUMBLEbees? Do they bumble around lots?

Bumble - from the Middle English “bomblen” - to buzz.

EB has a lot on them, but you need a subscription to get into the site and I’m not about to quote the entire article here.

They have nests, not hives, in the ground commonly in old bird or mouse nests.
They can sting. Bumblebees are divided into two genera Bombus and Psithyrus. Bombus makes honey. Psithyrus, being parasitic, doesn’t.

There’s an entomologist buzzing around these boards, maybe he’ll give a better explanation than I.

“Bumblebee” as a word dates back to 1530. “Bumble” goes back to the 1400s:

Etymology: Middle English bomblen to boom, of imitative origin
Date: 15th century
1 : BUZZ

Stoidela, nice to see you out of the Pit. Come join us in MPSIMS!

The only thing I know about bumblebees is that:

  1. Yes, they can sting
  2. No, they normally don’t-gentle giants etc.
  3. They do help pollinate trees, flowers etc.

And, hey, I just found the web site that has All You Ever Wanted To Know About Bumblebees But Were Afraid To Ask.

And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss
of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so
wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth
of vast eternity can fill it up!
-Charles Dickens “Dombey and Son”

Thanks for the invite… and thanks for the link. I got all excited, but it’s dead. Wah.

I really wanna know more…

Are YOU ready for Y2K? Take my advice: Panic early and avoid the rush.

Try this:

“I’m not confused, I’m just well mixed”
–Robert Frost

YEH they can STING! I know. I was repairing my roof ,had a rotted out section over an eave. Busted the hammer thru the sheathing and found a BIG nest of bumbles. I was surprized cause I thought they always stayed down near the ground. ( Found lots when mowin the fields) I jumped off that roof right quick, and moved 'quickly but calmly away". Only trouble, they got me cornered between the wall and a twelve foot cedar fence. I was wearing shorts,they grabbed hold of my socks and got down to bindness. Bumbles don’t lose their stings and die so it was fast and furious. My ankles swelled up as big as my thighs. Later I smoked um out and got a 2 lb coffee can of honey.
Of mice and bees… I once read somewhere something about how Old Maids should be outlawed in England because they would destroy the Empire. Old Maids keep cats, cats kill field mice, field mice make nests in clover, bumbles move into nests, bumbles pollinate the clover, clover feeds the sheep, the English navy lived on mutton. No mice, no bumbles, no clover, no mutton, no sailor, no Empire. Swift?

I got your website right here, Stoidela (now if I can just get the link to work right)


It is not a dead link, either. I just visited it. Happy buzzing.

I do yard work for a customer, a retired reference librarian. There was a big black bumblebee flying around in the back yard. I went inside later and told her it was there and I was concerned. She asked, “Do you have pollen on you?” I said, “No.” She answered, “Then you shouldn’t have to worry.”

WOW. Mr John said a mouthful!

I too was attacked in similar fashion by a nest of bumblebitches I disturbed under the siding of my house. They didn’t “grab my socks” or get down to any serious business other than hundreds of them buzzing past my head at something like 200 MPH, but the noise and general hubbub was definitely terrifying.

Yeh ,nik, i do tend to run off at the mouth,er, keyboard.Dougie you were lucky you weren’t fertilized. Next time your mowing a lawn make sure you are in a condominium. Our beekeeping merit badge couselor used to warn the boys about wearing cologne or aftershave. Seems the honey bees think you are a bee from another hive or a flower and concentrate on you which leads you to waving them off which leads to youch. The old guy never wore gloves or nets by the way.
NIC I been posting all around since maintenance, I can’t see the other replies when I hit reply, is it happening to any body else? I am liable to start sending clones again.

“Along this same thought, why BUMBLEbees? Do they bumble around lots?”

Sure do, Magoo.
They fly very slowly (certainly not 200mph, Nick :slight_smile: ) and bump into stuff a lot.
These are the big, hairy guys, some with yellow markings, right?

I still have nightmares about a variety of bumblebee I used to encounter during my days as a cable TV linesman. These bees were huge, all black and made their homes in small holes in the side of telephone poles. We called them “pole bees”, and they would get extremely irate when someone started gaffing up their poles. I would be 25 feet up a pole, with nothing but two spurs preventing me from becoming a sidewalk pancake, when one of these bastards would start buzzing around my head. Any attempt to shoo them away would put you at risk of losing your balance.

There was nothing you could do while you were on the pole, but as soon as I got down I’d grab a can of hornet spray and completely saturate the bee holes. I didn’t care if it took the whole can. It was worth the $4 just to have the satisfaction of killing one.

If you get tired of bumblebee stings, try those of yellowjackets. Saga with a moral:


Once I slept in a sleeping bag on a hill in Berkeley, CA, US. Fine until I awoke in the morning. Many yellowjackets upset with me as a trespasser upon their nest in the ground. I fled, pulling my bag with me. But, hey, where were my glasses. I heard this loud, “Nnnnnnyyyyyyaaaaaaa!!!” I tried to retrieve my specs to no avail; the enemy had retribution, compensation or whatever. I went down to the nearest hardware store to buy some insect spray with which to blast the little $%&^^&)(&#^*)s, but didn’t have enough cash on me, so I went to a fire station nearby to see if I could borrow some spray from them. They didn’t have any, but they saw that I had lots of stings on me, and being in the rescue business, they insisted that I should get taken to the hospital to get checked out. I had had a few bee stings before, and a few yellowjacket stings, and had had no trouble with them; but I had never received a quantity of 40 or so, as I then had; so I finally stupidly acceded to their request and they called an ambulance.

Well, due to the general possibility of anaphylactic shock, the medics in the ambulance started squirting me up with Bendryl and epinephrine, and then, when I got to the hospital, I really got the full dosage of these drugs. One catch though, I had untreated chronic angle-closure glaucoma in one eye and a narrow angle in the other one. Things like Benadryl are not supposed to be administered in such cases. In any case, I do not believe a patient cannot be monitored, even in an ambulance, sufficiently well to know whether or not any shock is about to occur.

Well, I don’t think the progress of my eyes was changed any, but I didn’t have any money for the ambulance and ER care, so the City and a charity were out something like $750 for all this absurdity. But it was all politically correct, in this capital of such things.

After I got out of the ER, I was able to go up to my sleeping site and pick up my glasses. Not a yellowjacket was in sight at that time. They hadn’t pulled my glasses underground. I guess they figured their attack that morning had been “spectacular” enough. . .and that, well, even trifocals don’t quite hack it for multilenticular eyes like those of yellowjackets.

So, anyhow, I still sleep in the woods on occasion, but I haven’t been to a fire station since. They should stick to putting out fires.

Ray (stung more than once)

on the same general topic, I’ve got a bee hive that seems to be growing everyday. How do I go about removing it from the eave on my house SAFELY? Anyone?

Call a pest control service. They have people who do this sort of thing in as professional a manner as they can.

Bumblebees are pretty cool, in my book. We used to pat them when they were messing around with a flower. Never got stung by one, they just seemed to get irritated and take off. My grandfather, apparently, was stung by a bunch of them who had made their nest in a mop kept outside on his deck.

Poetry corner! I wrote this myself a couple of years ago.

What sort of bug o’er flow’rs doth fuss?
Megabombus pennsylvanicus.

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

Red Wings - Look in the Yellow pages under Apiary, Apiarist, or Bee keepers. If you have honey bees, they’ll be happy to take the hive off your hands.

Red, call an apiarist before the pest control,please. But do it soon, ceilings have collapsed from the weight of honey in unknown bee hives. At least you know know you got one.

Those weren’t bumblebees, they were carpenter bees. I don’t remember whether they are able to sting, but the two references I have (plus 13 years of living with them) indicate that they don’t sting. (One reference is the big Ortho guide in the chemical aisle of the local garden nursery.)

I have had to replace parts of my deck and one eave because of their boring. Despite the fact that their defense appears to be simply a good mimic of a mad bumblebee (or a B-26 Marauder in a power dive), they are still pretty scary. Having fought with them for the entire time I’ve lived in this house with no one being stung, I’m slowly coming to believe that that truly don’t sting–but I don’t think I’d have taken that chance at the top of a line pole.