The plight of the male bumblebee
Once the males have hatched, they leave the nest never to return. Their sole purpose is to feed, mate, then die— it is a very short life for the humble male. Most will never mate but those that do will pass on the genes from the mother queen bee and the grandmother, great grandmother etc. hence the dilution of the females being related only by 75% and the male at 50% (don’t worry that is the last of the genetic info!)
Some of these males will also help to dig new queens out of the nest, only to have another male come up and mate with her because he is too tired to move quickly. Very sneaky!
Now for fun facts. You can tell that a bumblebee is male as the male in most species has a little yellow moustache. They live for approximately 4-5 weeks and do not have the ability to sting, this is a female trait only. The stinger is a modified egg-laying tube called an ovipositor.
Bumblebees do not die when they sting, that only applies to honeybees. The honeybee’s stinger has barbs on it so when they sting, they essentially rip off their bottoms— ouch! Stinging costs vital energy and bees don’t want to use up that energy, so they will only sting if threatened.
The energy required for bumblebees to fly is pretty immense, when you think that their wings move between 120-240 beats per second! That buzz you hear is from the movement of the wings, imagine that they are propellers on an old aircraft. You may also see them buzzing on a fence or flower but not moving. They are trying to heat up their flight muscles to be able to fly, so give them some room.
I hope you have enjoyed your journey with me about the incredible bumblebee.