Neil Pont

Wildlife Photography


The birds and the bees - well, bees anyway...

Posted on 24 July, 2020 at 17:45

A day late again!  I need to get back into my routine....

Today's blog is built around something we saw in our garden for the first time: bumblebees mating.

There are 4 stages in the lifecycle of a bumblebee:
1. Queens emerge from hibernation and start a new colony (she has been fertilised the previous year, before hibernation)

2. Workers (females) are produced and start to forage; the colony develops and grows
3. Unfertilised eggs (males) are laid and worker larvae develop into new queens
4. Males and new queens mate

When the adult males emerge they spend a few days in the nest, but do no work, and then they leave the nest for good and forage for themselves. They can often be seen sheltering under the heads of flowers when it rains or when it gets dark.

New queens emerge about a week or so after the males. The new queens leave the nest to forage for themselves, returning to the nest for shelter, but they do not add to the existing nest provisions. When the new queen is ready to mate she flies to where the attractant chemical has been deposited by the male and waits for a suitable mate. Then the two mate - as in these pictures of the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

The adult male bumblebee (in common with most adult male insects) has only one function in life - that is to mate. He will fly in a circuit depositing a queen-attracting scent pheromone produced from a gland in his head in suitable places, usually in the morning, and replacing the scent if it rains. Different species have different preferred flying heights for this, and different queen attracting scents.

The pheromone is used to scent-mark prominent objects (tree trunks, rocks, posts, etc) on the circuit which is usually a few hundred metres long. The scent of some species can be detected by some humans. Usually the males patrol at species specific heights.

Mating usually takes place while resting on the ground or on vegetation. At the start of mating the male grabs on to the queen's thorax to get himself into the correct position.

In order to mate the female must extend her sting so that the male can insert his genital capsule.

The time taken for matings varies widely from 10 minutes to 80 minutes. The sperm is transferred within the first 2 minutes of mating, and the bees are in a rather vulnerable position, so why do they continue for so long? Well, after the male passes his sperm into the queen he pumps a sticky mixture into her genital opening. This genital plug takes time to harden, and once hardened can completely or partially block the entry of sperm from other males for up to three days. So even though the two are in a vulnerable position, it is in the interest of the male to hang on to ensure that his genes have a good chance of being passed on to the next generation, and as most males don't even manage to mate, and those that do usually just mate once, he wants to be sure his genes will be passed on.

New queens usually search for a hibernation site soon after mating.

I'm not sure we would have been looking so closely at what is happening in our garden if it weren't for "lockdown". 
Food for thought...

It was great to deepen our understanding of how 'nature' works.

Categories: 2020

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.


Reply Marycal
12:18 on 31 October, 2020 
cystone tablet price viagra pharmacy generic azithromycin 250 mg tablet for sale buy celexa viagra cialis online where to buy zithromax online cialis 8662329020 zofran 400 mg benadryl prednisolone sod
Reply Markcal
11:46 on 31 October, 2020 
best price for gabapentin 300 mg accutane medicine singapore albuterol 4mg 500 mg robaxin viagra to buy zovirax pills otc
Reply Best Online Loans
10:16 on 31 October, 2020 
michigan car insurance
Reply Fireplace Stove Price
9:46 on 31 October, 2020 
Reply Amycal
9:45 on 31 October, 2020 
avana 845628057582
Reply geico
9:33 on 31 October, 2020 
trig homework mortgage interest rates mn auto owners insurance company state farm auto quote free auto insurance quotes nj
Reply Pay Day Loan
8:16 on 31 October, 2020 
ifriends research paper 247 grange auto insurance ameriprise auto and home loans with low interest homemade webcam mortgage amortization schedule permanent life insurance
Reply Loans For Bad Credit
8:09 on 31 October, 2020 
classic car insurance quotes
Reply Mini Tool
7:26 on 31 October, 2020 
Reply auto owners ins
23:54 on 30 October, 2020 
essay ppt global life insurance quotes va loan interest essay writer with word count
Reply Kiacal
23:21 on 30 October, 2020 
where can you buy viagra online
Reply Lisacal
20:35 on 30 October, 2020 
purchase propecia no prescription
Reply Markcal
18:10 on 30 October, 2020 
lexapro canadian pharmacy order trental viagra south africa viagra 25 mg coupon medication gabapentin 300mg
Reply group life insurance
13:56 on 30 October, 2020 
essay esl
Reply Jasoncal
13:55 on 30 October, 2020 
cialis fast delivery orlistat pills for sale synthroid 700 mg ventolin 6.7g lexapro singapore where can i buy clomid online canada danazol 200 mg cefixime capsules 200mg pfizer viagra lanoxin 25
Reply Kiacal
12:38 on 30 October, 2020 
silagra online uk
Reply Dencal
11:52 on 30 October, 2020 
buy generic propecia australia cheapest xenical online suhagra 50 mg online buy singulair tablets prescription orlistat
Reply Paulcal
11:34 on 30 October, 2020 
how to get viagra prescription dapoxetine tegretol bipolar propranolol 40 mg buy online female viagra tablets in india
Reply Best Payday Loan
11:33 on 30 October, 2020 
fast cash loans
Reply Dencal
11:26 on 30 October, 2020 
synthroid medicine trental medicine 1500 mg ashwagandha how much is nexium cheap priligy