Prolific and easily recognizable, Bumblebees are possibly our most important native pollinator. These gentle giants of the bee world, Bumblebees are our only native bee that lives in a social colony.
Bumblebees are very important for the pollination of many native plant species in our area. They are active at lower temperatures than honey bees and in rainier weather because they can generate heat and regulate their body temperature. Bumblebees are social bees, like honey bees, they live in a communal hive which has between 50 - 500 bees (honey bee colonies will have 5000 - 40000 bees). Most of the bumblebee colonies I've worked with in Oregon have less than 100 bees.
Each spring queen bumblebees that have hibernated through the winter emerge and begin to look for a good nest location. Popular nesting locations for bumblebees are abandon mouse holes or empty bird nests. Once a queen chooses her nest location for the year, she begins to build out the wax structure. When the nest structure is finished, it will generally be circular and about the size of a dinner plate with a very bulbus surface. It may be helpful to know that a bumblebee nest will only last for one year (generally until around October).
Living with Bumbles
Relax: Live with them and enjoy their presence. Bumblebees have an annual life cycle, so they will only nest in their current location until fall.
Redirect: If Bumblebees have placed their nest in a location where their flight path constantly conflicts with you, your kids, or pets, it may be possible to redirect that flight path.
Relocate: If the Bumblebees are in a difficult spot, you have a life-threatening allergy to bee stings, or they are in peril due to pending construction or other factors, the Bumblebee nest can often be relocated.
If you have questions about the redirection or relocation of Bumblebees, give us a call.
Call or Text for friendly swarm rescue or bee advice
There are around 30 species of Bombus in Oregon. Ten of these are either species of conservation concern or rare species. The other twenty are fairly common with Bombus vosnesenskii, the yellow-faced bumblebee being the most prolific. Protecting these native pollinators is critically important for sustaining our ecosystem.