A queen in the backyard!

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I like bumble bees. Their fuzzy bodies remind me of miniature teddy bear, and they move slowly enough that I can easily watch them. I was thrilled recently to see this large bumble bee visiting one of our daffodil blossoms. I suspected it was a queen, since I’ve learned that only fertilized queen bumble bees hibernate and survive the winter. They are the first to appear in spring as they prepare to establish a new colony.

Two-spotted Bumble Bee Visiting a Daffodil

I wanted to identify this bumble bee and find out if it was indeed a queen. I tried to get close-up photos, especially of the head and abdomen. This one shows the face, and how the bee has collected a lot of pollen on its legs and abdomen.

Two-spotted Bumble Bee View of face

However, it was the view of the upper abdomen (the section behind the wings) that was most helpful. According to BugGuide, this is a Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Bombus bimaculatus) and is indeed a queen. The yellow hairs on the back of the abdomen don’t look like two spots to me, but they’re important for identification.

Two-spotted Bumble Bee View of Abdomen

Bumble bees are important pollinators, and some of them are in serious decline. They are especially important in pollinating some edible plants, including tomatoes and blueberries. I’m delighted to have seen this one in our backyard and hope she can establish a thriving colony. With luck, we’ll be seeing some of her offspring later this year.

12 thoughts on “A queen in the backyard!”

  1. Betty, Thanks for the lovely photos and the new information. It is always fun to see your posts! Happy Spring, Jane

  2. Lovely, lovely pics Betty! I like Bumble Bees too , and Daffodils, my favourite Spring flower. Yes, let’s pray they all establish a thriving colony.

  3. Watching a particularly large and lovely one, I became so enamored I tried to pet it. I remember the encounter. Yes, I got stung and for days…a bit of swelling and itching. :). Worth it tho! So glad you love them too.

    1. Connie, I doubt many folks are going to get that carried away. I have heard that they can be petted and even picked up. I’m not quite ready to try that yet. Glad to know your encounter did not alter your feelings for these creature.

    1. Darlene, how did you ever guess? 🙂 You are so right. Bumblebees don’t take selfies.
      Yes, I have joined http://bumblebeewatch.org/. It is sponsored by the Xerces Society. I like what they are doing and think they (along with BugGuide) can help me learn more about our backyard bees. Thanks for asking.

  4. I saw something dark on the kitchen floor- early one morning recently. I turned on the light…it was a bumble bee! It was barely moving. I figured it was coming out of hibernation. I scooped it up and put it outside. — based on your blog– I guess it was a queen… Janet

    1. Janet, good for you for putting it outside. I fear that many folks would have done otherwise. Since fertile queens are the only ones who overwinter it most probably was a queen and if so, you’ve saved an entire colony! For the queen her entire colony, I say ‘thank you’!

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