Beneficial Besties: Bumblebees

If you’re puttering outside these days, you are likely encounter a bumblebee or two (and hopefully more!) sipping nectar from the still-blooming flowers. These gentle, humming insects are a welcome sight on a sunny day, going about their work with a gentle ease that is fascinating to watch.  While some beneficial insects zoom and hover, bumblebees just coast. There are few insects more relaxed while going about their important work and it’s such a treat to watch these furry insects exuberantly work a flower.

Bumblebees tend to spend their time in the best places – fields of flowers and blooming things beckon these beneficial besties. They’re wonderfully wired to pass their days in beautiful settings, which may explain why they are so easy going when compared to other bees, like their A-type honey relations.

But don’t let their docile nature fool you, Bumble Bees are efficient pollinators, transferring pollen from flower to flower in many plant species. This pollination effort produces fruits and seeds that we rely on for food. Have a tomato garden? Bumblebees are a master pollinators.

Late summer/early autumn is a good time to take some steps to support our native bumblebee population. Like all creatures, bumblebees need food and shelter to thrive. Plant a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers that will bloom throughout the seasons to provide both the nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein) that bumblebees need. For shelter, bumblebees naturally nest in the ground, for example old mouse or vole holes. Open patches of bare soil provide nesting sites for bumblebees and perennials and grasses left alone until spring will provide overwintering shelter.