Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bees taking a nap?

I'm just popping in for a little while. I haven't been able to get on here very much this week and have not been able to participate in any meme's. I'm also very sorry I haven't been able to visit either but I do thank you for all the comments you've left me and promise that at the first opportunity I will return the visit. The photos I'm sharing today are of a bumble bee I came across on our walk last weekend. In fact there were several of them and they appeared to be sleeping. After all the flurry of activity this summer in the bee world, and having a hard time taking photos of them, it was a nice surprise to come across dormant bumble bees. I found some information about them on line and have included it below.

The Life Cycle of the Bumble Bee.

Every Autumn as the first frosts begin the mated young queens seek out a place to hibernate in safety. If you come across a live but sleepy bee in a pile of leaves in Winter don't damage it. Its not dying, just in a deep cold sleep like a hedgehog. Put it back where you found it and cover it gently against the cold.

In the first warm days of Spring you may see the large queens flying busily about the early bulbs and flowers. These large slow bees are searching for nectar and pollen to turn into honey and food for their newly hatching brood. So the organic gardener plants lots of pollen producing flowers and leaves an unmown patch of early dandelions in the wild garden or hedgerow to feed the young queens.

The queen will locate a suitable place to build her nest. There are over 200 types of bumble bee and they look for a variety of sites. Most common are the leaf litter in a hedge bottom, an old mouse hole, a cool dark place under a large stone or under the wooden floor of a garden shed or other building. Because the bumble bee does not live in a large colony the nest is usually little bigger than half a grapefruit even in the busiest days of high Summer.

The queen begins a new nest with a ball of pollen and wax into which she lays just a few (approx six) eggs at a time. When the eggs hatch they try to eat their way through the pollen reserve but the queen continually adds to the pollen and wax sealing them in. Eventually the grubs pupate and the queen spins a bright yellow cocoon of the finest silk from which the grubs emerge a few days later as fully grown worker bees.

As soon as they dry their wings the worker bees begin work to support the colony and their queen. She continues to lay eggs but as it takes more and more of her time the pollen and nectar collection is delegated to the workers, the queen spending her whole time in the nest.

This co-operation continues throughout the high days of late Spring and Summer until the nest has reached the right size for its species. At that point the queen lays eggs destined to become next years queen bees as well as drones or male bees. The drones once hatched leave the nest and live independent lives, their only purpose being to mate with the young queens to ensure the survival of the species. Unlike honey bees the young bumble queens will continue to live and work in the mother colony for the remainder of the Summer and Autumn.

Come the first sharp drop in temperature and frosts the old queen, her workers and the independent drones will die. Only the newly mated queens will survive in hibernation to begin the cycle again the following Spring.

18 comments:

Sunny said...

Wonderful pictures. Interesting info, thanks.
Sunny :)

Regina said...

So amazing. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

Regina

jabblog said...

Most informative - it's always good to learn something new. Thank you Denise.

Kay said...

Aha! So that's what a real bumble bee looks like. What I thought were bumble bees at our house were really carpenter bees.

Luna said...

Was there some alcohol in the nectar? :) I'm totally with this bee, nothing as good as a nap!
purrs and love

Janie said...

Interesting natural history of the bumblebee, and a great photo, too.

diane said...

Isn't nature wonderful. The insect world is amazing. Hope all is well and looking forward to your return.Your bee looks like she might be ready for her big sleep.Nice shots.

tricia said...

Thanks for the info on bees-- I had no idea. Great shots too. I've never gotten a really good shot of a bee. I hope all is well with you. Take care Denise.

Patty said...

Have a happy week-end. Raining here and very chilly. I don't like cold damp weather.

ShySongbird said...

Beautiful photos and interesting information Denise, isn't it amazing that there are over 200 types?

I also loved all the colourful blooms on Sunday's post.

Titania said...

Hi Denise, I enjoyed very much reading about the bumble bees. I have many different species in my garden so it is good to know what they are up to! I love to watch them hoy they "bumble" from flower to flower. I have observed that some prefer certain colours. Or could it be that some flowers produce more nectar and pollen than others; I wonder?

JunieRose2005 said...

Very interesting post and great close-ups of that bee and flowers! I enjoyed this!


Junie

Craver Vii said...

Very informative. I didn't know about the sleepy bees. You learn something new every day.

I liked the reflection of colors from the first bee's eyes.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Denise. I loved reading more about the bees... Thanks SO much.
Hugs,
Betsy

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post and amazing photos of the bees.

kanishk said...

. Interesting info, thanks.
Work From Home

kanishk said...

So amazing. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing. Work From Home

MedaM said...

Great infor post! Beautiful photos especially the first shot.