What are bumble bees?
Bumble bees (right) are large
(3/4"+), hairy, often colorful bees. They can be
easily confused with carpenter bees but
the best way to tell these bees apart is to look
at the top of the abdomen. Bumble bees have a
colorful, hairy abdomen while in carpenter bees
the top surface of the abdomen is bare and shiny
(see What Do
Carpenter Bees Look Like?).
Bumble bees live in small, social
colonies, often in the ground, where work is
divided among colony members. Like other
Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants), bumble bees
are able to sting intruders in defense of their
nest. Bumble bees feed on pollen and plant nectar
much like honey bees do and as such are good
pollinators. See this
excellent British Museum of Natural
History site for photos, maps and
distribution lists for bumble bees.
other spelling: bumblebee