Bumble bees are known for their adorable appearance, but these fuzzy buzzing insects can
deliver powerful stings – multiple times. If you’re dealing with a bumble bee infestation, it helps to know more about the insect, and the best ways to remove them.
Table of Contents
- How to Get Rid of Bumble Bees – 4 Ways
- 12 Bumble Bee Facts You Need to Know
- 1. What Is a Bumble Bee?
- 2. What Do Bumble Bees Look Like?
- 3. What Do Bumble Bees Do with Their Pollen?
- 4. What Kills Bumble Bees?
- 5. Do Bumble Bees Make Honey?
- 6. Where Do Bumble Bees Build Their Nests?
- 7. What Do Bumble Bees Eat?
- 8. Are Bumble Bees Endangered?
- 9. How Do Bumble Bees Mate?
- 10. Where Do Bumble Bees Go At Night?
- 11. Where Do Bumble Bees Go In The Winter?
- 12. Which Bumble Bees Sting?
- Are Bumble Bees and Honey Bees the Same?
How to Get Rid of Bumble Bees – 4 Ways
Bumble bees like to keep away from humans and animals, and with their populations being threatened, it’s important to take great care when removing these bees.
It’s best to avoid killing them if at all possible.
There are a few ways to repel bees, and you also have options if you need to exterminate the nest.
1. Spicy Peppermint Spray
If there’s one thing insects hate, it’s peppermint. They hate cinnamon, too. When combined, the two can make a potent repellent spray that will keep these buzzing bugs out of your yard.
Here’s how to make this minty spray:
- Combine two teaspoons of liquid dish soap with water in an empty spray bottle.
- Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
- Add a few drops of cinnamon essential oil, or 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. (oil is preferred, as the ground cinnamon may clog the sprayer).
Make sure the mixture is well-combined, and spray areas where bumble bees are hanging around.
Do not spray the bees directly. This mixture will not kill bees – only repel them. Spraying the bees directly will only agitate them, and make them more likely to sting you.
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2. Call in a Beekeeper
If you want to remove the bees from your yard, but don’t want to kill the nest, a beekeeper may be able to help.
Beekeepers will know how to remove the nest safely, and care for the bees after they are removed from your home or yard.
These bee experts may charge a fee for their services, depending on how difficult it is to remove the nest, or they may do it for free.
3. Use Insecticides
If the bumble bees are proving to be a nuisance or danger to your family, insecticides can be used to kill the nest.
Insecticides can be purchased from a local home improvement store, but make sure the product is labeled for use with bees.
The timing of the application is important when using these products. Bees are active during the day, and rest after the sun goes down. Spraying the nest during the day puts you at greater risk of being stung, and will only result in the killing of a few bees.
Spraying at night when the bees are resting is the best option.
As always, you want to make sure that you wear protective clothing to prevent yourself from being stung. Don’t forget to cover your head, face, neck and hands when spraying.
4. Hire an Exterminator
The final option is to hire an exterminator. If you don’t want to risk getting stung, a professional exterminator can come in and treat the nest.
Treatments will likely take place over the course of a few days to make sure that all the bees are dead.
Most exterminators do not remove nests or dead bees, so you’ll need to take care of these tasks yourself. Some may offer this service, but at a higher price.
Bumble bees are not as aggressive as other types of bees, and will often build their nests in places where humans aren’t as active. But if family members have allergies or the nest is proving to be a nuisance, hiring an exterminator or calling in a beekeeper may be the best option.
12 Bumble Bee Facts You Need to Know
1. What Is a Bumble Bee?
A bumble bee is an insect, and a part of the genus Bombus, a family of bees. Bombus is the only extant group in the Bombini tribe.
There are more than 250 species of bumblebees, and they’re found mostly in the Northern Hemisphere at higher altitudes.
These bees are social creatures, and form colonies with a queen. Colonies are usually smaller than other bees, like the honey bee, with as few as 50 members.
2. What Do Bumble Bees Look Like?
Bumble bees are mostly black with yellow bands on their bodies. They have round bodies with brightly-colored pile that make them appear fuzzy.
The alternating black and yellow colors serve as a warning signal, as the female’s sting is painful.
Depending on the species of bumble bee, warning colors can range from orange to yellow, red, white, pink, and black.
A quick search for bumble bee pictures online will give you a better idea of what these insects look like.
3. What Do Bumble Bees Do with Their Pollen?
Bumble bees gather pollen to feed their young. They forage for pollen using spatial relationships and color to identify flowers.
Bumble bees carry pollen in what’s called a pollen basket on the hind legs. The pollen is stored in a fringe of hairs, which help the bee transport the food.
In order for larvae to grow, they must be fed a diet of pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrates).
Pocket-making bees will place pockets of pollen at the bottom of the brood-cell cluster, and the larvae feed on the pollen. Pollen-storing bees, on the other hand, store the pollen in wax pots, and the larvae feed off of these pots.
Bumble bees only collect enough food for a few days, so they are extremely vulnerable to food shortages.
Like all other insects, bumble bees have predators. They’re also killed by insecticides, and the heavy use of pesticides in agriculture has also led to a decline in their population.
The bumble bee’s main mammalian predators are badgers. Badgers use their claws to dig up nests, and feed on the food stores and larvae. Badgers destroy many bumble bee nests.
Birds are also natural predators of bumble bees. Great tits and robins both catch bumblebees, and then run the bees along the branches to remove their stingers. These birds then peck out the insides of the bee.
Some wasps and flies kill bumblebees. Spiders do, too.
The crab spider, for example, hides on flowers and grabs bumble bees with its front legs. The spider injects the bee with venom that leads to paralysis and death.
Frogs and newts will also eat these buzzing insects.
5. Do Bumble Bees Make Honey?
We know that honey bees make honey, but what about bumble bees?
Bumble bees don’t produce honey, but they do have their own version of honey. These bees collect and store nectar. Compared to honey bees, their stores are much smaller.
6. Where Do Bumble Bees Build Their Nests?
Bumble bees nest underground, above ground and in some cases, in trees. Where they build their nest is dependent on the species.
Those that nest underground often chose places like abandoned rodent holes, or compost heaps.
Above-ground nesters may build their nests in thick grass. The Tree bumblebee builds its nests far above ground in trees, bird boxes and lofts.
Queens investigate the environment using smell and sight to find a suitable place to build a nest.
A well-established nest can have as many as 400 bees. By comparison, honey bee hives can have as many as 50,000 bees.
7. What Do Bumble Bees Eat?
Bumble bees are herbivores, and feed mostly on nectar. If no nectar is available, they will eat honey and pollen.
These bees have tongues known as a proboscis. This hairy structure extends from the bee’s mouth, and is used to lap up nectar. Experts believe the tip of the tongue acts like a suction cup.
8. Are Bumble Bees Endangered?
In September 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggested listing a certain species of bumble bee (the rusty patched bumblebee) as endangered.
Bumble bees aren’t necessarily endangered, but their populations are being threatened by disease, pesticides, loss of habitat and climate change.
Pathogens are also a threat, as more commercial bees are introduced to the wild population.
9. How Do Bumble Bees Mate?
In the mating department, bumble bees are very different from other bees. Mating sessions can last as long as 45 minutes, and once the male is done, he injects the queen with “bung,” a chemical version of the chastity belt. The bung prevents her from mating again.
Males are free to go out and mate again.
10. Where Do Bumble Bees Go At Night?
Where do bumble bees sleep?
Male bumble bees live outside the nest, so you’ll often find them sleeping on flowers in the early morning.
Some female cuckoo bumble bees will also sleep on flowers, as they do not make their own nests.
11. Where Do Bumble Bees Go In The Winter?
Queen bumble bees overwinter in a tiny nest that’s just big enough for her. When temperatures get colder, she produces a chemical (glycerol) that keeps her body from freezing. Queens stay buried in their nests until spring arrives.
The last brood of summer colonies contain several queens, which mate and find a place to ride out the winter. Only queens hibernate for the winter. The other colony members perish.
12. Which Bumble Bees Sting?
All types of female bumble bees sting, but generally leave humans and animals alone. These bees are not as aggressive as other types, but females can sting multiple times.
Are Bumble Bees and Honey Bees the Same?
No. While closely related, honey bees and bumble bees are two distinctly different types of bees.