Im­por­tant pol­li­na­tors

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Garden Market -

There are few in­sects that are as kindly thought of than bum­ble bees. They are of­ten por­trayed in chil­dren’s sto­ries and po­ems as friendly, happy char­ac­ters that sel­dom cause trou­ble. Their name “bum­ble” de­rives from Latin roots mean­ing “to buzz or drone” which clearly de­scribes the sounds heard from bum­ble­bees. In a more mod­ern sense, “bum­ble” also means to move awk­wardly or in­eptly which char­ac­ter­izes the man­ner in which bum­ble­bees seem to fly around from flower to flower. They ap­pear more re­laxed in their ef­forts than their hard-work­ing honey bee cousins.

Bum­ble­bees (Bom­bus) are eas­ily rec­og­nized by their quite large, plumplook­ing size and their dis­tinc­tive black and yel­low band­ing, which some­times in­cludes orange mark­ings as well. Their roundish bod­ies are very well cov­ered with hairs that are quite soft and fuzzy feel­ing. They are rarely ter­ri­to­rial or ag­gres­sive like wasps and gen­er­ally don’t sting peo­ple but will if they feel threat­ened enough.

So­cial in­sects

Bum­ble­bees are so­cial in­sects in the in­sect or­der Hy­menoptera which in­cludes other highly so­cial in­sects such as wasps and ants. Just like honey bees, bum­ble bees live in colonies with a queen, work­ers and drones, but their colonies are much smaller in num­ber than those of the honey bees. Bum­ble­bee colonies, or nests, are typ­i­cally found in the ground in the aban­doned nests of other crea­tures such as mice and bur­row­ing birds. In Canada, bum­ble­bee nests are newly created on an an­nual ba­sis. Only fer­til­ized queens will over­win­ter and in the spring these queens will each find a suit­able nest­ing site to build their colonies.

Bum­ble­bee work­ers for­age for nec­tar and pollen to feed them­selves and the young in the colony. They have long, hairy tongues to gather nec­tar from flow­ers and are es­pe­cially good for help­ing to pol­li­nate plants with deep flow­ers such as some of the com­mer­cially grown clovers.

The hind leg of the fe­male bum­ble­bee is mod­i­fied to have an area with a pollen bas­ket. This is a bare area that is sur­rounded by hairs and it is in this spot that bum­ble­bees trans­port the pollen they col­lect from the many, many flow­ers they visit ev­ery day. They can carry rel­a­tively large amounts of pollen which can be very eas­ily seen on al­most any bum­ble­bee a per­son en­coun­ters.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.