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Bumble Bee - Hymenoptera, Apidae



Authors as Published

Eric Day, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech


image 1 Bumble bee. David Cappaert, Michigan State University. Bugwood.org


Bumble bees are large, hairy bees that collect and carry pollen on their hind legs to bring it back to the hive. 
Size: 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches (19.1-38mm). Color: Generally black and yellow


Often encountered foraging at flowers. Some species choose nesting places around people's houses. Wooden storage sheds and small barns, which may also house small rodents, are a favorite nesting place of bumble bees.

Life Cycle 

Their colonies are a spectacular example of social organization, with each member working tirelessly to protect and build the colony.

Type of Damage

Bumble bees are beneficial insects, performing unexcelled pollinating services for such crops as red clover and blueberries. Many species, normally docile and unaggressive while foraging on flowers, turn vicious when their nests are disturbed, chasing intruders for many yards away from the nest.

Cultural Control

Control is usually not recommended. But if desired, it would be best to find and destroy the nest. Individual bumble bees that get into the house can be controlled with an aerosol.

Interesting Facts

Bumble bees are common and inconspicuous insects; yet most people have never seen the fascinating bustle of activity in the nest of the bumble bee. Inside the nest, a colony of these social insects may number 200 or more. Members engage in most of the activities of a human society–gathering food, caring for offspring, constructing a home, defending it, and regulating the environment inside it. Bumble bees have very few natural enemies, skunks being one of the few animals that find bumble bees tasty, sting and all.


Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.


Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.


May 13, 2011

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