wild bees and native bees

Bumble bees are not just for killing

Why do people seem to think we should automatically kill bumble bees with no thought to the good they might do? Why do we equate them with mosquitoes and cockroaches?

When you run a website, you get to see a daily report of what people typed in the little search box that landed them on your site. This is anonymous—it’s just a list of phrases—but it’s fascinating. Every day I get dozens of these entries—misspellings and all—that show what was on someone’s mind when they landed here at Honey Bee Suite.

I mention this because every day my list features five or six people who want to know how to kill bumble bees. Bumble bees! This amazes me. Bumble bees seem so innocuous, so friendly, so unlikely to cause anyone distress. Quite frankly, I can understand someone wanting to kill honey bees, but bumble bees? Not in my wildest dreams.

That anyone would want to kill a hardworking creature that’s minding its own business is puzzling. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone to get stung by a bumble bee while it browsed the flowers, and they don’t chase people—so what is it? Even little kids are taught that bumble bees are friendly—cartoon bees are always smiling, very yellow, and annoyingly good-natured.

Perhaps it’s a case of mistaken identity. Something like a wasp is chasing them—or going for their ham sandwich—and they assume it’s a bumble bee. Or maybe our all-encompassing love affair with insecticides makes us think that the only good bug is a dead bug. Or maybe it’s movies and television that show impossibly large man-eating insects doing just that.

It’s probably a good thing my search terms are anonymous because I’d like to ask each of these people why they want to kill bumble bees. Actually, I’d like to grab them by the collar and shake them, but I try to stay within the law for the most part.

My best guess is that we are dealing with a total lack of awareness of the “good bugs”—pollinators, decomposers, natural enemies of agricultural pests, and insects that become food for birds and lizards, and frogs. Short of shaking some sense into people, the best we can do is to keep educating those around us—every single chance we get.

Honey Bee Suite

People kill bumble bees with no regard for all the pollination service they provide. They are not aggressive and they seldom sting.
People kill bumble bees with no regard for all the pollination service they provide. They are not aggressive and they seldom sting.

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  • I have planted lots of bee attracting plants so that my honeybees would have plenty of nectar. However I now find all these plants filled with bumblebees – hundreds of them – while our honeybees have to resort to the poor sources of nectar available in the forest nearby.

    I love bumblebees but fear I’ve created an overpopulation situation that is harmful to our honey bees.

    what to do?

    • Huguette,

      Since I started planting for honey bees, I’ve been inundated by bumble bees as well. But don’t worry. If the environment is healthy enough to support bumble bees it will be excellent habitat for all kinds of pollinators, including honey bees. The bumble bees won’t overrun the honey bees. Honey bees have a high degree of floral fidelity, which means when they go out on a foraging trip they collect from one kind of plant only. As a result, they look for large expanses of one kind of flower–something we usually don’t have in our yards. Bumble bees, on the other hand, go from one type of a plant to another, and so they are more likely to be found where there is a mixture of flower types.

      I don’t know where you live, but my honey bees forage almost exclusively in the forest. They have been healthy for years and they make great honey.

      By the way, bumble bees are endangered in many parts of the world. I don’t think you can have an overpopulation. It sounds like you are doing good things for the pollinators . . . and your honey bees will be fine.

  • This question isn’t related to the specific topic of this post, but it’s about bumble bees:

    Are bumble bees a carrier of Varroa mites?

    I ask because I’ve heard of a farmer where I live importing bubble bees for pollination of cranberry plants. We don’t have mites where I live (in Newfoundland) and I’m concerned that importing bumble bees could be risky.

    • Phillip,

      The reproductive cycle of bumble bees is totally unlike that of honey bees so Varroa destructor would not be able to reproduce and thrive on them. Bumble bees carry a variety of Nosema of their own, Nosema bombi, that has transferred into wild populations of bumble bees from greenhouse bumbles. However, little is known about the cross-species movement of most bee diseases and parasites, and the possibility of cross-species infection always exists.

  • I was playing in the lawn with my one-year-old who is attracted to flowers (just like the bees) and so holding a flower in each hand and roaming around. I saw this bumble bee buzzing around and nearing him. Being unaware of the nature of them, I screamed and picked him up quickly throwing those flowers away. After a minute or so we are back playing. But this time, I saw the bee coming from a bush straight to me and I just repeated what I did before swatting my hands, picked up my son and we came inside. I had a feeling that the bee was trying to attack me and so looked up in the internet. After reading and realising that I’ve actually threatened that social and good-natured bee, I stumbled upon this article.

    I appreciate your article and your for caring for the pollinators. Cheers!

  • I have bumblebees in a shed where I keep the chicken feed and I’m scared of them. They’re all over the place, and I need to be able to feed my chickens! What can I use to get rid of them for good? Thanks!

  • Hi Rusty,

    I live in Northeastern Ohio and about a month ago some honey bees took up residence in the hollow parts of my metal porch swing. (I was surprised, I didn’t know honey bees made nests in man-made structures). I was overjoyed they were honey bees, rather than hornets, not only because honey bees are far more pleasant but because I’ve seen the truth of their dwindling numbers with my own eyes. I’ve fallen in love with them, they are so fun to watch and aren’t bothered in the least if I sit on the swing. But I’m worried for them. Certainly the small hollow parts of my swing don’t make for a good permanent home. I want them to flourish. Is there any information you can give me or suggestions for me, I want to lend them a helping hand and I am woefully ignorant about bees.

    • Cory,

      Most honey bees live in man-made hives, but a swing doesn’t sound like it would be a honey bee’s first choice. Perhaps you should call a local beekeeper and have him or her take a look and help you decide what to do.

  • Hi,
    I’m new here I from Zimbabwe and I’ve got a swarm of bees that have taken refuge on a rusted metal swing earlier today and I am afraid my kids might be stung by them. It looks like there’s more than a hundred all piled up like a small hill suspended upside down from the swing, they are no beekeepers close by as we live out on a farm, please advise.

    • Drake,

      Usually bees in a cluster like that are just waiting until they can find a permanent home. Some of the bees from the group go out and search while the rest stay in one place. They are usually gentle in this condition because they have no young bees to protect. My guess is that they will move on within a couple of days.

  • A bunch of tri-colored bumble bees have taken up home in a bird house in my backyard. I think they are great but the birdhouse is in a location that makes it difficult to garden without disturbing the bees (and potentially getting stung). I need to be able to work in the backyard so I am trying to figure out what options I have. It is a small backyard so there is nowhere on my property for me to move them.

    • Pierre,

      Why not give the birdhouse (with bees) to someone who does have room for it?

  • I don’t have the necessary equipment to get near that birdhouse. Someone would have to come get that had the equipment.

  • Where is this bumblebees nest located for someone to come rescue them. Couldn’t they be put in a box at night?

  • Prior to having honeybees I have set up bee houses for native species and noticed a array of native bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, squash bees, mason bees of all sorts feeding on the many different types of flowers from buckwheat to honeysuckle. What I have noticed the most was the extremely hard working bumble bee in almost every single flowering shrub, plant tree, vegetable…even in the tassels of my corn along with carpenter bees in large numbers collecting, pollen legs loaded with pollen. Planted everything I could think of to help all of them. I think an important part of beekeeping is to also be aware of other species that need to survive alongside your bees since they do a large amount of pollination. But by far the bumble bee to me is one of the most important. They are some of the first to go foraging on colder mornings and know how to help the pollination of tomato plants, pepper plants with their buzzing shaking them. Although solitary bees are not as much work or fun to raise as honey bees all of them are crucial for pollination. Anything we can do to help them survive, planting forage for all or recognizing that they belong and not harm any of them would be to our own advantage. Personally I would set up bee house with reeds for them near your garden. Some of the houses may attract solitary wasps that are not aggressive as well who will hunt pests in your garden but the solitary bees may actually use those reeds and help you with the pollination of your orchard, vegetable garden etc. Bumble bees being the most active and helpful they are a generalist when it comes to pollinating …they are in flowers that you see nothing else ever in amazing specie of bee.

    • Craig,

      I agree with everything you say here, but I would like to remind everyone that fully 70% of all bee species nest underground, usually in tiny holes. These bees need patches of bare soil, so we should always keep some bare patches they can use that won’t be dug up in the fall.

  • Maybe you can put on a bee suit and move the bird house somewhere away from your garden. Usually they won’t nest in the same spot the following year either because the old queen dies.

  • One other thing about bumblebees if this can help at all is that even other countries recognize how important pollinators they are. They are even bought from companies in the U.S. to do pollination in Iceland. I never had a bumblebee hive for many reasons. But the solitary bees that nest in the ground will also nest in reeds if they they can.

    The only issue with this method that needs to be made aware of is the reeds should be changed every year to prevent parasitic pests from crawling into those used reeds and wiping them out like Varroa mite does if unchecked with honey bees. You been a huge help Rusty. Your advice regarding not heating a hive which I was skeptical about in the first place is why I asked since their life cycle is different than most native species in many ways. When you said the honeybee may decide to go outside the hive and end up dying really because it thinks its warm outside.

    Today for example I live in Michigan and our weather here is very strange temps go up and down. I made a deflector to repel rain off the landing board. Checked on it after work today and because the temps were in the low 60s my bees where out of the hive flying closer than usual to me. Winter bees bold and strong i surmise but temps being warmer brought them out of the hive and in relation to what you said about amateurs micro managing being new to this venture I can visibly see proof that they would have emerged and probably froze in the first freezing cold snap of winter if not sooner. Later that day I checked on them and the temps dropped to probably in the low 40s maybe 50 at best and no activity near the hive. Almost like they came out for exercise and went back home afterwards.

    • Craig,

      One point. You say, “But the solitary bees that nest in the ground will also nest in reeds if they they can.” Not true. Nearly all species are either ground nesters or cavity nesters. Their entire life history is connected intimately to where they live and what type of nest they build, and there are only a very few species of the 20,000 that can cross over. If I recall, there are a few in the Megachilidae family that can switch, and a few species of bumble that can switch, but the number is very limited.

  • Must of been cuckoo bees I seen then nesting in the reeds. I am aware of Megachilidae species in reeds but when I was working next to my pepper garden which has solitary bee nests near it seems as though leaf cutters that nest there seem to be using the leaves from the pepper plants to close their cells off. While harvesting peppers I couldn’t help but notice bees same color size as squash bees nesting in the reeds. I know squash bees are suppose to be nesting near the squash but in the ground I recall not in reeds. I guess I could have mistaken them as a parasitic cuckoo at a glance.

    • Craig,

      After I answered you yesterday, I remembered that many Ceratina in the Apidae family also nest in reeds. But bee identification is notoriously difficult. I like to have several good close-ups, including wing veins, the tip of the abdomen, and the front of the head, before I even an attempt an i.d. Even then, sometimes you need a dissection, as I’m sure you know.

  • I appreciate your helping me with this matter. You are a huge help and have been to me for years here. I waited 3 years to work with honey bees, studied them, researched the care of them, but all the while had solitary bees. Even studying honey bees without having them was a wake up call once I started with them. So far so good with the condition of the hive and size and food stores thanks to your input, a tremendous resource to relay on.

    One of the biggest mistakes I probably made with them this far is not having more than one hive as a back up, the other not treating them for mites shortly after I bought the 3 lb package. They did have mites, that is a fact.

    The weather in S.E. Michigan is very strange so treating them early spring would have been best but the summer and fall was in the high 80s so formic acid treatment was out of the question until mid October. I did a treatment for 14 days but made another mistake, treated them 4 days later with another round of formic acid for 14 days. The weather now is 50s during the day and freezing at night.

    I made and used that top quilt cover with a condensation board above that with a insulated cover from Mann Lake and the telescopic cover above that. I did wrap the hive with a insulated wrap to block some of the strong winds we get here. The bees are active during the day when it’s the warmest, they are in full sun 90% of the time.

    I made many many mistakes with them as I have mentioned but I also fed them all season since they were a 3 lb package and allowed them to pull comb in 3 brood boxes and 2 supers. All the feed came from Mann Lake. It was their Pro Sweet which I added lemongrass oil and tea tree oil to, also fed them all season with a pollen patty that Mann Lake made. It was the one used to stimulate brood production. All this I doubt was necessary as you probably see, but with one hive, no back up, I did what I could to provide them the extra push and hopefully it wasn’t a total disaster of a mistake.

    Today I observed them even though their hive is wrapped up for winter. I left the entrance reducer in place and back side of the hive open for air flow with the top quilted box open for airflow and notice with the warmth from the sun they were active today even approaching me. I believe they see blue and my jeans attracted one of them to me possibly. Very cool species of bee to deal with.

    Some of the solitary bees I had before landed on me as well after some hatched out of their cocoons maybe because of being disoriented but I’m sure the winter bees I seen today had other reasons protecting their food stores possibly I’m not sure. They have every reason to be protective of what they have I will say.

    What I see as my interest is their sole survival if lost much worse a price to them if anything happens to them. My daughters both want to be involved with beekeeping my oldest and my youngest. I will sign up for classes and take them with me to learn. Hopefully this will be something to pass on to them one day so they can teach their kids how important the bees are to this world around them.

  • I thought I’d share my story of being stung by a bumble bee. My 2 year old daughter somehow got one under her shirt. She kept telling me about the buzzy tickles. I finally figured it out and when I tried to get her shirt off, she was stung once in the shoulder and I was stung once in the thumb, through the shirt. I can’t remember if the bumble survived or not.

  • I just read your article, and I’m glad you’ve found bumble bees to be so friendly!

    We have and old farm house and barns, and 2 years in a row they have nested either in the house or in the barn (near loose soil by the foundations), and they attack as soon as you come anywhere near (your front door, or the barn door) swarming, chasing, and yes, stinging the living bejeezus out of us and our children. I had one on my sock that stung me so many times it ended up infected, and still hasn’t fully healed and it’s been over a month. Meanwhile, the honey bees happily ignore everyone and go about their business.

    So while you may not understand why someone would want to kill bumble bees, I certainly can. This isn’t an awareness issue, it’s an experience issue for us.

  • Rusty,

    Absolutely! We’ve got wood bore bees as well, but they just dodge around at you, bouncy off your head once in a while, and tear up the old wood. I’ve put out a couple of traps for them, and that has cut down on them flying into your head to protect their nest area.

    These are fuzzy yellow and black, and in the nest they’re from about the size of a nickel to about the size of a quarter. If you get anywhere near their nest they chase you down and sting you repeatedly. At least 5 people have been stung by them last year, and 4 this year. You end up finding the nest area accidentally when you’re suddenly swarmed with stinging bees.

    They do collect pollen, as I’ve seen it on the legs of the larger ones’ legs. If I manage to catch one I’ll try to identify the type – maybe we’re just blessed with a extra nasty breed of them..

  • Yesterday I had the door open because it’s very sunny right now. After a while, one of my cats started going ballistic, and chased something into the livingroom. Went out to see what it was, and I heard incredibly loud buzzing, much louder than a fly. It was trying to get out a closed window (which had a screen anyway), and I managed to get a glimpse of it through the closed blinds. Black and yellow, big fat and fuzzy! I got excited and pulled my cat away so he wouldn’t eat it. I’ve been afraid of bees all my life, but in college I gained a sense of joyful respect for them, when I learned from experience that they have no interest in me, and bumblies are actually kinda cute. So I grabbed an empty drink bottle to catch it, and the more it hit against the window, the angrier it began to sound. It buzzed louder and louder. Concerned, I peeked around the blinds again, and saw a skinny little waist. WASP!!! There were wasps that look like bumblebees!? I withdrew my hand, threw the bottle down, and drowned that little beast in insect killer. It didn’t want to die, but eventually it did. I was shaking for half an hour, my hand had been inches away.

    Today, I learned that bumblebees have tiny hidden waists, that you don’t usually see unless you’re at the right angle, and the bee is slightly curled. Like it was when I saw it. Nobody ever told me this.

    I didn’t kill a wasp. I killed an innocent bumblie, and I can never take back my mistake. I took away a helpful pollinator, and a fuzzy friend. What can I do, as someone who could never be a beekeeper, to make up for my crime?

    • Regretful,

      Just as a side note, “innocent bumblies” have a more powerful sting that most wasps. Our preconceived notions can get us all confused.

      As for making up for your crime, plant flowers and get rid of the insect killer. Those are the two best things anyone can do for bees.

  • My landlord wants to exterminate the bumblebees that set up house in my eaves. What can I tell them to get a professional to get rid of them another way? Aren’t the bees protected? I thought it was illegal to kill them, hard to find info on bumble bees.

    • Heather,

      Well, I don’t know what country you are writing from, so I don’t know the laws. In the US, one species of bumble bee is protected by the Endangered Species Act, the rest are not. So you would have to determine the species first.

  • Hi there,

    I was loading wood into a trailer with my boyfriend and his dad the other day, and we came across a bumblebee nest in the stacked wood. They just took it and threw it. His dad insisted they will just build a new nest, but he isn’t usually knowledgable on these types of things so I just wanted to see if you guys had any expertise on the subject – if a bumblebee nest is disturbed like that, do they all typically survive and just build new nests? We would have plenty of places to build one, I’m sure. We’re on an acre with a lot of trees. I love having the bees around and am really hoping we didn’t hurt them. That being said, I have definitely seen bumbles around the property since then.

    • Megan,

      I assume the vast majority, maybe all, of the bumble bees would die from that type of handling. It’s better to move a nest to a new location rather than just toss it.

  • Hello, I grew up scared of all bees when I was little, but as I grew up and we learned the differences I grew to absolutely love and adore bumbles. They have such big personalities that makes them fun to play with.

    Last night my sister found a bumble that she thought was dead but when she rolled her over she moved, she was still alive! (After my research last night I assumed she was a queen that got caught by the sudden cold here in Georgia). We left her outside with regular tap water and a couple of old rags to attempt to keep her warm until I got concerned that that wouldn’t help so I found your site and set up her box and some sugar water. When I brought her in she was all bundled lightly in my hands and I’d blow on her every once and a while, she started to “shiver” (mom is a nurse and we are all science nerds so I was soo incredibly fascinated by seeing and feeling that).

    I moved her from the old t-shirt strip to her new temporary home since the weather says it’ll be below freezing for a few nights. She vibrated in there for a bit. When she would stop and we saw her tongue probing my sister and I would take turns attempting to feed her. She started to slow down which I assumed meant she was tired, it was past 2 in the morning by this time, so I put a small bit of “greenery” in with her and closed the box, it was purple but still a plant lol. She stayed in my room which I made sure was in the mid to upper 60s and….I honestly was worried so I stayed up but didn’t mess with her…after she was in my room. I woke up at 7:30 to check on her and she didn’t make it.

    So, all of that was to ask if I held her too much. I held her a fair bit while we were outside so I could share my body heat, then picked her up again to bring her inside (bundled up firm but gentle in the t-shirt strip). I tried not to touch her too much after that but she may have been gently pushed and rolled because we couldn’t figure out if she would be better on her side, back or tummy and it was a little bit of a struggle using a sugar spoon and 3 inch whisk (both of which were used to feed and were rinsed and dried before being used to flip her). Our brother got home just as I was putting her to bed and she was just soo cute and soft and cuddly so I held her again as gentle as before, “snuggled her” for maybe two or three seconds, which is just snuggling my hands so she doesn’t get hurt then put her back in the box to rest and recover.

    Is it possible that I over handled her and killed her?

    • Sarah,

      I don’t think the handling would hurt the bee; they’re pretty sturdy when it comes to that. What I can’t tell from your description is whether it was actually a queen or not. It could have been a male or a worker that was simply at the end of it’s life. If so, there was nothing you could do to save it. If it was a queen, maybe it didn’t hibernate on time or maybe it emerged too soon. There are so many variables.

      But seriously, don’t worry. I’m very sure you didn’t hurt it.

  • I would never kill a bee–any bee–outside…but, I gotta tell you, if they come in the house, it’s war, and I have thumbs…

      • i’m too afraid of being stung–i know, i’m horrible…i feel guilty as hell…

        • i’ve just found you, & your site–i’m hoping by reading about them, and being “around” bee-lovers, i will banish this foolish phobia & notion…

          i’m here to learn!?

  • Hello!

    I’m nearly positive that the confusion comes from carpenter bees as they are very similar to their fuzzy, lovable cousins. The carpenter bee is very territorial and aggressive and has been known to attack me in my garden. Spraying has never worked for those bulky boys, and the best method to getting rid of them so far is to catch them with a butterfly net and freezing them.

  • I looked up “how to kill a bumble bee” because I have had 8 of these little guys fly into my room while my windows are slightly open (because of the heat) in the past 2 days. If it wasn’t for the risk of getting stung, I would try to capture them and release them. I would never kill a bumble bee doing its own thing anywhere outside my house, but when they decide to fly in I have to deal with it one way or another.

  • Although “should I kill bumble bees” is the search term that got me here, I was actually looking for support as to why they should NOT be killed. I clicked the link because I thought the title of the article was bizarre.

    I read “Bumble bees are not just for killing” to mean “Bumble bees are not ONLY for killing,” as if purpose number one was obviously killing, but they also had an additional purpose. Like “Water is not just for swimming, [it’s also for drinking and showering].” I was over on this side of the internet wondering what was wrong with you to believe bumble bees’ primary point on earth was for killing. I believe we can agree that this would be a disturbing perspective. This probably explains some of the more questionable searches that brought people here.

    Was “Bumble bees are not just for killing” intended to mean “It is unjust to kill bumble bees”?

    • Jenni,

      You seem to understand the title perfectly. It came about from the frustration I feel when my inbox is filled with questions about how to kill bumble bees. I don’t understand why people think they should kill them just because they exist. They actually have a critical role to play in the natural environment, including the pollination of our agricultural crops, as well as flowers and trees. Fortunately, those questions have decreased somewhat during the twelve years since I wrote the post, although they still trickle in.

      Your question seems to prove my point. You say you were “looking for support as to why they should NOT be killed.” That sounds like you automatically believed they should be killed.

      The title was deliberately provocative because I was hoping people would take time to reconsider before they pull out their can of Raid.

  • I love honey, but hate bees! Had my first encounter yesterday with a blask & yellow bumblebee. I felt something scratchy on my neck and went to brush it off which then it attached to my finger. Before I could brush it off again and, IT GOT ME! As soon as it hit the ground I decided to introduce it to the bottom of my shoe! It made this cute little crunchy sound so I gave it one more for good luck just in case, and tossed it in the trash. It itches a bit and Dermoplast soothed it right away. One thing is certain though, She’ll never do that AGAIN! LOL!

  • Yes, dear, but you don’t go to your animal-loving friend to tell that interesting story about how that dog attacked you, and how efficiently and enthusiastically you put him down. It doesn’t matter that it’s the most fascinating story in the history of the world, it’s just not the venue for that. It’s the venue for saying how upset you are that you had to do it, and how you felt so bad that you ran right out and made a generous donation to the Xerces Society. I mean the SPCA. (Or DO I?)

  • I love all the pollinator bees in my gardens and have never been stung. I work amongst them peacefully. Bumble bees are so gentle. I have even patted one very gently after helping it get right side up on one of the zinnias. Bumble bees tell you if they are annoyed – that leg comes up like a “Hey there!” This happened recently when I was working on a zinnia in my veg garden. I didn’t see the bumble bee, bent a bit too close to where it was, and heard an indignant bzzzz bzzz bzzz in my ear. I straightened up to see a bumble bee on another zinnia with its leg up (a bit reminiscent of a gesture used by some humans). I apologized to the bee and we both carried on. This year the bees were late in arriving, but finally, they came. My garden beds were full of them. It was glorious to see 4 or 5 bumble bees and other bees on one of the purple flowers of the Agastache foeniculum in my veg garden. It’s a great plant for bees. One long flower can accommodate many bees and the plant has a long bloom time. Please don’t kill or swat at the bees. Flailing your hands around just frightens them. Really, nobody likes that if you think about it. They are gentle creatures who only want to gather pollen and live their short season on this Earth. Nice website and thank you.

  • In response to: Why do people seem to think we should automatically kill bumble bees with no thought to the good they might do? Why do we equate them with mosquitoes and cockroaches?

    Answer: Humans fear insects that fly and bite. Spiders are the kings of paranoia.

    You are responding to my comment, and it was a mixture of sarcasm and satire. I see maybe 2 bumble bees a year here. My incident was not due to provocation. Totally still, sitting in my yard surrounded by cement landscape, I was startled by this giant insect landing on my neck, and no, I don’t wear aftershave either.

    First reaction is to slap it off of yourself. It attached to my fingertip and stung me at the same time. I slapped it off my finger in a heartbeat, but it already had stung me. I’ve been stung many times in my life like the wasp that flew into my car window while driving and then decided to crawl down my back and what came next was a feeling like someone sticking a lit cigarette in my back. It was dealt with in the same manner with like results as well.

    I knew well what was about to manifest with this bee sting and yes, it angered the crap out of me. The next week was hell, and you all know that they can sting multiple times due to a stinger without barbs. That’s why I introduced it to the bottom of my shoe.

    Next you are enveloped in a large web courtesy of an orb spider, send me a video. It’s an instant reaction, you know. I still hate unruly bees. Thank you.

  • I have lived peacefully with bumble bees here in NJ forever. I have lots of flowers and vegetables and things to pollinate. But, all of a sudden, in the last 2 weeks, I have been stung by bumble bees twice. Through my clothes. I didn’t bother them, or harass. Never ever has a bumble bee ever attacked me like I was the last 2 weeks. Wondering what’s up. A nest nearby? It’s totally out of character here. Thanks. Pat Dumas, NJ

    • Pat,

      Usually, when I hear of bumble bee “attacks,” they are related to plowing and tilling fields. Tear up a bumble bee nest with a plow and you will know about it.

      However, I seldom hear of bumble bees behaving aggressively in fields or gardens where their nests are left alone. The one common denominator I’ve noticed is high humidity. When someone describes aggressive bumble bee behavior, they often mention high humidity, the kind that occurs before a storm, especially the east coast kind.

      Did you happen to notice anything like that? If not, then I really don’t have an answer. Right now I’ve got what seems like thousands of bumble bees of several different species in my shrubs, and I haven’t seen a hint of aggression. But it’s been very dry here with low humidity.

      This is just me guessing because I don’t have a scientific explanation. Does anyone else have an idea?