My pet bumblebees

I found myself missing my little friends today so I figured I would share the story of them with you. You see, I have pet bumblebees. I should clarify that they do not live with me, nor do they require anything of me. I suppose I share them with all of nature.

I first discovered my flying pals three springs ago. I had just moved into my 3rd floor apartment when I noticed there was quite a commotion occuring daily outside my sliding glass doors. So I opened them wide and discovered with amazement and growing amusement that the airspace above my deck was the playground of bumblebees. They chased each other is fast and dizzying circles all day long just outside my screen door. Every single sunny day for six weeks I had an endless source of entertainment. Far better than daytime TV, much more reliable than humans I christened my friends “Ed, Fred and Ted” (as there was always three of them). Then sadly after about six weeks or so my pets moved on to other play areas. However they return the same time every year - late April and hang with me until mid June.

I’d swear these bees know me. Nothing quite finer than sitting on my deck with a book on a warm spring day with my bees playing an endless game of tag all around me. Occasionally one would hover a few inches from my face for a short period and then spin and zoom away with breakneck bee speed…almost as if to say “hey! oops gotta go!” I’ve never been stung but I have had a bee or two bounce off my head and arms during playtime. They don’t seem to mind me and I certainly enjoy their company.

So this afternoon I was reading indoors, far too hot in Tennessee this time of year you know, and I just happened to notice the lack of buzzzzz. Sure they have moved on months ago, but I thought of them today and I miss those wacky insects. I hope they are having a damn fine summer.

April is simply too far away.

Funny you should mention this. Why just yesterday I was bringin’ home a baby bumblebee when…oh never mind.

Awww, sweet bumblies. And a sweet story.

I love the bumblies and all their buzzing cousins. We get along great and it’s nice to know someone else appreciates them too. :slight_smile:

You might want to check the timbers on the underside of your deck for holes that are just about the width of a bumblebee’s body. These do not sound like bumblebees so much as carpenter bees. (They are about the same size, but carpenter bees lack the bright yellow bands of bumblebees and are mostly dark colored.) Carpenter bees rarely sting, while bumblebees are easily provoked and, lacking the honey bee’s barbed stinger, are quite willing to sting for fun and profit. The female carpenter bee bores into wood, making a 90° turn about 3/8 inch into the tunnel, and lays her eggs at the end of the four inch (or so) long tunnel. Eventually, such tunnels weaken the timbers to the point of rotting out.

Kansas State Carpenter Bee page (includes comparison to bumblebee) and KSU Carpenter Bee data . (Bumblebees tend to live in the ground, 30 to a nest, and spend their day gathering nectar rather than socializing in the early summer while they mate.)

That is EXACTLY what immediately came to my mind. I hate to break it to the OP but IIRC bees only live about 9 weeks.

I really expected them to be named “Eric”.

No! These were quite clearly whole bees.

Now I want pet bees. I have dragonfiles, but they’re more awsome than cute.

Now, if one was half a bee…

Are you sure about this? Everything I’ve read about bumblebees (http://www.bumblebee.org/body.htm) indicates that they’re pretty non-aggressive. There might be subspecies that are more likely to sting, but most of the ones I’ve seen have pretty much adopted a live-and-let-live policy.

Yeah, I did overstate the case. I was thinking about if the bumblebee nest was disturbed, as opposed to the carpenter bee nest that they “defend” mostly by buzzing. But a bumblebee among the flowers will generally not attack unless you actually get your hand on it (as I did as a child, coloring my view of the critters).

And that barbless sting leaves quite a crater. I know this because it was a bumblebee that stung me once on my left bosom whilst I was innocently enjoying a leisurly dip in the pool. (And no, I was not nekkit, and please hold the swelling cracks while yer at it!) :dubious:

Can we at least speculate that you wear a Bee cup?

poor boob-bee

I want a girl with a short skirt and a Loooooooooooong jacket.

That is all. Thank you for your support.

A buddy of mine’s daughter used to go out into the garden on cool mornings and pet the bumble bees. They pretty much shut down below a certain temp. She would pet them until they warmed up enough to fly away.

In Minnesota, at least, the bumblebees are solitary and aren’t aggressive in the least.

Why not put your arm out and let them walk all over it. They don’t stay long and are rather interesting close up and giving you a good sniff. I have never been stung, so it must be because i do not trigger their sudden movement/s alarm bells.

I once tried feeding them, with sugar, jam, honey, etc, but all that turned up was Wasps. USA = Yellow Jackets. My real joy is seeing bees buzz from flower to flower. A current on-going problem is pesticides, whole hives can get wiped out.

Bees, Moles, Squirrels, Wood Pigeons, and Urban Foxes seem to thrive here in Yorkshire. i wish we had your amiable, friendly, Mr Woodpile Skunk. Now thats a real character for you.

Are you a bee charmer?

Stupid trick: Catch a few bumble bees and put them in a container. Put said container in the freezer for a bit until the bee goes to “sleep”. While still sleeping, put a loop of black thread around the bee, but under his wings. Tape end of thread to a table in the warm sun, wait a few, and you will have then a pet bee on a leash. Do several at once and you could have a bee bouquet…

I cannot stand insects of any kind (except the dead and/or contained kind), if that were my deck, I would have misc poisons/spays out there so fast that the bee’s heads would spin.

BTW are wasps and yellow jackets really the same thing? I thought there was some subtle difference between the two that I was missing. How about Hornets? Are Hornets the same thing as well?

I will happily scoop up any bee and watch it for as long as it will stay on my hand or until I can get it outside. I’ve never been stung. I tried that with a hornet a few years ago and, well, they play by a different set of rules. It’s weird how the pain seems to go right down into the bones. So, yes, I’m a bee charmer but I’m not a hornet charmer.