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Bumblebee | Endangered Species Series


Bumblebee

There are approximately 275 different species of bumblebees around the world, with a majority of them living in the northern hemisphere. Only a few of these species are commonly seen in most places. Some species are found in only very specific locations. Bumblebees have been in decline because of changes in agricultural practices that are eliminating flowering plants from the landscapes, leaving the bees with little to feed on. Bumblebees live in a variety of habitats and can be attracted to your backyard with the right flowers in your garden.

Bumblebees are social creatures and live in colonies ruled by a queen who is helped by worker bees - smaller females. In the spring, the queen feeds on nectar to regain strength from a long hibernation and begins to lay eggs. These new bees become her worker bees and they will do all of the work tending to the nest while the queen remains inside laying more eggs. In late summer, the queen starts producing offspring that will be new queens and males so the colony can reproduce. The males leave the nest and spend their time feeding on nectar. The new queens also leave to feed and mate. Once mated, they feed heavily to store fat to be used during the long winter hibernation.

Bees are excellent pollinators and are key to the production of much of the food we eat - they pollinate more than two-thirds of the world's crop species. If the populations continue to decline, the high cost of pollinating many commercial crops through other means will greatly increase the cost of our fruits and vegetables. Bees also help pollinate nearly 75% of the world's flowering plants.

Sources: Bumblebee Conservation Trust, IUCN

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