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Bumblebee: Basics, Lifecycle and Fun facts

Bumblebee Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family:  Apidae
  • Tribe: Bombini
  • Genus: Bombus
  • Species: Over 250 species

Bumblebee Basics

The genus Bombus has about 250 different species of bumblebees. They may be found throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, as well as across South America, at northern latitudes. Bumblebees have a chubby, fuzzy look and come in a variety of colours, ranging from all-black to brilliant yellow, red, orange, white, or even pink stripes.

Although a few lowland tropical species occur, bumblebees are found at greater latitudes and elevations than most other bees. In fact, two species of bumblebee that live on Ellesmere Island in the high arctic have the northernmost range of any eusocial insect. Bumblebees have a lot of adaptations that allow them to survive in such chilly settings. Their dense pile of long bristles, for example, functions as insulation in the cold, preventing heat loss. Shivering allows bumblebees to boost the temperature of their muscles, and they can absorb heat even from feeble sunlight.

Bumblebees eat nectar, a sugary liquid generated by plants to attract pollinating insects. Bumblebees and other pollinators rub up against the reproductive organs of plants while searching for nectar within flowers, picking up or depositing pollen, allowing fertilization between different individuals. Pollen baskets, which are spaces encircled by hairs and used to convey pollen back to the nest to feed bumblebee larvae, are specifically developed pollen baskets on the hind legs of nesting bumblebee females.

The proboscis, or long, hairy tongue, of the bumblebee is used to sip nectar from tube-shaped flowers. The tip of the tongue is supposed to behave like a suction cup, enabling nectar to be sucked up by capillary action. The lengths of the tongues of various species reflect their adaptations to forage from different flower kinds. The proboscis of bumblebees is curled up beneath their heads while they are in flight or at rest.

Bumblebees are eusocial insects, which means they have overlapping generations within a colony of adults and perform cooperative brood care, division of labour into reproductive and non-reproductive groups, and cooperative brood care. The division of labour establishes a caste structure in which only queens and males are allowed to procreate, while female workers are responsible for feeding and foraging.

Bumblebee Reproduction

Bumblebees are eusocial insects, which means they have overlapping generations within a colony of adults and perform cooperative brood care, division of labour into reproductive and non-reproductive groups, and cooperative brood care. The division of labour establishes a caste structure in which only queens and males are allowed to procreate, while female workers are responsible for feeding and foraging.

The only bumblebee caste that survives the winter is the queen, who hibernates underground. Queens emerge in the spring and each chooses a location for their colony, which might be underground in an existing burrow, above ground in dense grass, or in a tree hole. Queens construct wax chambers in which to deposit fertilized eggs before hibernation. These eggs grow into female workers, resulting in colonies of 50 to 400 individuals. Bumblebee nests, unlike honeybee nests, are made out of a random tangle of cells rather than an orderly hexagonal framework.

Males and new queens are created as the size of a bumblebee colony grows. Although worker bees may produce males by depositing unfertilized eggs, queens use physical violence and pheromones to discourage this behaviour in order to lessen reproductive competition. Queens are the only females that leave the nest to mate with males from neighbouring colonies, making them the only females capable of laying fertilized eggs, which eventually mature into queens and workers. In the fall, young queens mate before beginning to eat heavily in preparation for hibernation. As the weather grows cooler and queens begin their hibernation, males and workers perish.

Fun Facts About Bumblebees

Bumblebees may seem charming and fluffy, but their bright colours indicate that they may sting with a terrible sting. This adaptation, along with others, exemplifies a variety of intriguing biological ideas.

Haplodiploidy

Bumblebee sex, like that of all other members of the Hymenoptera order, is determined via a haplodiploidy system. Unfertilized eggs carrying exclusively female genetic information grow into haploid males in this system. Fertilized eggs that include genetic information from both men and females, on the other hand, mature into diploid females. Males have half the number of chromosomes as females, as indicated by the phrases haploid and diploid.

One element thought to have influenced the development of eusociality in bumblebees and other species is haplodiploidy. This is because workers in colonies with just one queen who mated with only one male are only 3/4 related. In animals with various sex-determination processes, this is greater than the standard relatedness of 1/2 for siblings. As a technique to transmit their genes to the next generation, haplodiploidy is hypothesized to encourage kin selection, in which the reproductive success of closely related relatives is prioritized above an individual’s own reproductive success.

Mimicry

Bumblebees use brilliant colour patterns as aposematic messages to alert other species of their stinging potential. Mullerian mimicry is the tendency of different bumblebee species in the same location to exhibit similar colour patterns. This form of mimicry is adaptive, since other animals only need to learn one warning signal and will avoid any species that resembles the one that stung them earlier.

Other non-stinging animal species, such as hoverflies and horseflies, have colour patterns that are similar to bumblebees, a phenomenon known as Batesian mimicry. Non-stinging species benefit from mimicry because predators will avoid any species that looks like one that has previously stung them, regardless of whether they are truly hazardous.

The Bumblebee’s Sting

Bumblebee queens and workers, for example, may sting many times. Unlike honeybees, bumblebees’ stingers have no barbs and hence do not remain in the wound, enabling them to strike without injuring themselves. Bumblebees are not hostile, but they may sting to protect their nest or if they are attacked. Many wasp, ant, and other bee species, as well as other members of the Hymenoptera order, have the capacity to sting. This defence system usually involves the injection of venom, which induces painful responses that vary in intensity depending on the species.

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