University of Maryland Extension

Bumble Bees

nectaring bumble bee
Bumble bee
Photo: David Cappaert,

Key Points

  • Bumble bees are 1/4 to 1 inch long, robust, black and yellow in color and have a fuzzy abdomen.
  • They resemble carpenter bees, but the top of the abdomen is bare and shiny on carpenter bees. 
  • Bumble bees are social insects and live in colonies. They usually nest in an underground cavity or in a clump of grass. Nests are small and rarely seen. 
  • Bumble bees are important pollinators that feed on nectar and pollen.
  • They are quite docile and very rarely sting. 


  • Normally nests live for about 2 or 3 months. After this time the original queen, her workers and her sons will die. If the nest has been successful in rearing new queens they will leave the nest to mate and then go on to hibernate somewhere in the soil – ready to emerge the following spring to start their own colonies.
  • Bumble bee populations are in decline and should be protected and encouraged. We do not recommend spraying. 

Additional Resource

Rev. 2020

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2020. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.