When we think of bees, most of us think of the yellow and black honeybee. However, there are over 20,000 species of bees in the world, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. Bumblebees are one type that is particularly important for several purposes, but what exactly are they?
Bumblebees are incredible insects that have adapted to life on this planet. They’re responsible for pollinating an estimated one-quarter of the world’s food supply and are an important part of our ecosystem.
Read on for more about bumblebees and why they’re so important!
Are bumblebees great pollinators?
Bumblebees can be great pollinators. They are important pollinators, too. In fact, bumblebees are good pollinators—so good that they’re common pollinators in the UK and US alike!
Pollination is an essential part of human life. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to eat many of the foods that we enjoy every day. Pollinators are animals or insects that carry pollen from one flower to another, allowing fertilization and reproduction to occur. Bumblebees are great pollinators because they are strong fliers and capable of carrying large amounts of pollen at one time.
Bumblebees are very efficient at getting the job done: they will visit multiple flowers per trip and their body hairs help collect pollen that they carry back to their nests. This is a real boon for plants like tomatoes which produce large amounts of pollen but need multiple visits from insects to assure proper fertilization by cross-pollination (the mixing of genetic material between different plants).
To add, bumblebees are also important pollinators of many crops, including tomatoes and strawberries. Without these bees to help out, farmers would have a harder time producing high yields of fruits and vegetables.
What do bumblebees look like?
Bumblebees are fuzzy and black with bright yellow stripes. They have a hairy body and large eyes. Bumblebees can sting, but they rarely do so unless they feel threatened (like when you pick them up). Their long tongue is used to suck up nectar from flowers.
Bumblebees are social insects, meaning they live together in large colonies. They are active during the day and can be found in gardens and fields.
There are many types of bumblebees. Some are large, while others are small. Most species have black and yellow stripes on their bodies. Bumblebees eat pollen, nectar and honeydew (a sweet liquid produced by certain insects).
These distinctive appearances and behaviors make bumblebees some of the most easily recognized bees in the world. The queen is the largest bee in a colony and lays fertilized eggs that become worker bees. A group of honeybees is called a hive, while a group of bumblebees is called a colony.
Where do bumblebees live?
Bumblebees live all over the world, from the tropics to the Arctic and from deserts to mountains. They have adapted to their environment in many ways, including their coloring and flying behavior. Many bumblebees are black-and-yellow striped like a wasp, which helps predators know that they’re not dangerous. Some species of bumblebee have even evolved so that they do not sting at all—they can bite instead!
Bumblebees live in a variety of habitats: meadows, forests and even urban areas. Let us discuss each of these settings below:
- Meadow bumblebees: They are found in meadows, grasslands and other open areas with lots of flowers. There are about 200 species of meadow bumblebees worldwide. These bees are important pollinators for many types of plants, including crops such as tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.
- Forest bumblebees: They are found in forests, woodlands and shrublands. There are about 100 species of forest bumblebees worldwide. These bees pollinate plants such as raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.
- Urban bumblebees: They are found in urban areas, where there are plenty of flowering plants. There are about 20 species of urban bumblebees worldwide. These bees pollinate plants such as tomatoes and peppers in gardens and parks.
Each of these bumblebees has a different body shape and size. Forest bumblebees are generally larger than other types of bumblebee, while the largest type of bumble bee is the giant bee, which can be up to twice the size of a honeybee.
What are the differences between honey bees and bumble bees?
Honey bees are much smaller than bumble bees, and they have a smooth body instead of the hairy one that bumblebees have. The yellow and black stripes on honeybees mean they’re easy to identify, but it can be more difficult to tell apart the various types of bumblebee.
The fuzzy body of both species is covered in hair-like structures called setae (singular seta), which help keep the insects warm and dry while they’re out searching for food. They also help them pick up pollen grains when they land on flowers or plants such as clover, dandelions and thistles.
Do people use bumblebees for something besides pollination?
Aside from pollination, bumblebees have many uses, which you can find below:
- Scientific research. Bumblebees are used in many scientific studies to determine how they use their senses to find food and shelter, how they communicate with each other, and how they interact with other species.
- Honey production. Admittedly, this is not a practice I’ve ever heard of or seen at any point in my life (nor do I know anyone who has). But some beekeepers keep colonies of bumblebees solely for the purpose of producing honey!
- Medicine. Bumblebees have been used for centuries by Chinese herbalists as an anti-inflammatory agent; however, these medicines are rarely used today due to their lack of effectiveness when compared to modern pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen or aspirin.
- Bumblebees are also used in some modern medicines as an anti-bacterial agent and to reduce swelling. In addition, bumblebee venom is being studied as a treatment for Graves’ disease, which causes hyperthyroidism in humans.
We hope this post has helped you learn more about bumblebees and their importance. Bumblebees are incredibly important to our ecosystem, and they deserve our respect. If you want to help them, plant some flowers in your garden or backyard that will attract bumblebees!