field horticulture
BUMBLE BEES- By Fred Field

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Also called the Humble Bee,  belongs to the insect tribe Bombini.   The main New Zealand variety is Bombus these are nest building and psithyrus which is a purisite.  Bumble  Bee like to nest in disused birds nests or mouse nests.   Bombus are shy insects and not as aggresive when distrubed like bees.

The Bombus Queen lays her eggs in the nest after spending the winter in hibernation.  (Workers usually die in winter).  The  1st brood generally develops into 4 to 8 worker bees.   Shortly after emerging as adults these workers takeover from the queen the duties of collecting pollen and caring for the hive.   The queen then retires to a life of egg laying .   For a while only worker progeny are produced and the colony grows until it contains 50-600 bees.   In the  late summer with the large population of workers bringing in abundant food, males and new queens are produced.

Although some males develop from unferilised eggs laid by the queen, most hatch from eggs laid by the workers.   In the early fall (Autumn)  the queen stops laying eggs and most of the colony dies out.  As the temperature drops they have difficulty in flying, they need a certain amount of warmth to fly.

If building your hive put dry  leaves, rotton wood, or wool inside to insulate against extreme temperatures.

If on ground place under hedges facing the North or East and make it look secluded.  The risk is if mice get hungry they can inter and cause havoc.   If above ground again place it in a secluded position.

                         Copyright Fred Field/ Field Horticulture