Have you ever wondered why you don’t see many bumblebees in early spring? In fact, in my case, when I spot my first large bee of the year, I automatically call it a bumblebee. However, more often than not, the bee turns out to be a carpenter bee. Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees have shiny, hairless abdomens and frequently hover.
The truth of the matter is very few bumblebees are flying about in early spring. It seems the only bumblebees we see at this time of the year are queens (fertilized females). All of the other members of their colony died when the flowers disappeared the previous year.
Queens are able to survive frigid temperatures is because a chemical called glycol flows through their bodies. This substance prevents the bumblebees’ blood from freezing.
Once spring arrives and temperatures rise, even a few degrees above freezing, the queens emerge. When you do see them they are either trying of find flowers where they can consume much-needed food, or looking for burrows where they can lay their eggs and begin a new colony. At times, they will even nest in above ground cavities such as bird nesting boxes.
That’s interesting about the queen bumble bees having glycol so they can survive the winter- like anti-freeze!
Was out pruning today and was buzzed by what I thought was a bumble bee – must have been a carpenter bee. Will look closer to identify tomorrow. Great information. Thanks!
On Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 5:34 PM, backyardwildlifeconnection wrote:
> backyardwildlifeconnection by Terry W.Johnson posted: ” Have you > ever wondered why you don’t see many bumblebees in early spring? In fact, > in my case, when I spot my first large bee of the year, I automatically > call it a bumblebee. However, more often than not, the bee turns out to > be a carpenter be” >
Thanks for the comment. I went a long time not distinguishing between carpenter and bumblebees. Now I do it all of the time. It is interesting to see which I see by season and at what plants they use.