bumble bee on blue baptisia flowers

Bumble bee (Bombus sp.). Photos: David L. Clement, University of Maryland, Bugwood.org

Updated: March 9, 2021

About bumble bees

  • 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. 

Management

  • 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

Xerces Society - Bumble Bee Threats and Conservation 

Rev. 2020