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Newly-hatched Bumble Bees Resting At Night Before Foraging & Mating During The Day

At this time of year bumble bee larvae develop into virgin queens and males instead of the female workers that hatch during the summer.  Chances are if you take an early morning walk when fall temperatures are starting to drop, you may come across one of the male bumble bees in an immobile state resting on a goldenrod or aster flower. Having spent the night here due to cold temperatures (their flight muscles must be above 86°F in order for them to take flight and their thorax must be maintained during flight at 86-104°F), they use their wing muscles in the morning to shiver and raise their temperature until they are capable of flight.

Young queens are visible during the day, but return to the hive for shelter during the night.  Once they have mated and are fertilized they fill their honey sacs with honey and seek shelter for the winter several inches underground.  They are the only members of the hive to overwinter; all others perish in the fall. (Photo: male bumble bee resting on New England Aster early one fall morning.)

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5 responses

  1. Alice

    The Aster petals are so pretty surrounding Mr Bumble! I’ve enjoyed seeing so many Bumble Bees this summer & fall on the flowers on the deck. Pots of Zinnias, Begonias, Gazanias & Cupheas. Some of the Bumbles are huge. Lots of photos & video ops.

    October 15, 2021 at 8:18 am

  2. Fascinating Mary. I did not realize how much they need to warm up before flight. I think I have seen them on my garden flowers too at times. So glad I don’t have to warm up in the morning by shivering!

    October 15, 2021 at 8:19 am

  3. Bill on the Hill...

    Thanks Mary… I’ve seen this many times over the years when the weather turns colder & I never really understood what I was seeing until now…Speaking of asters, I have some absolutely stunning shots of Monarchs feeding on the multi-colored aster blossoms in summer as well as various bees, including the the bumble bee…
    I love doing closeup work on insects feeding on the asters, they are so beautiful, they almost steal the show!
    Bill… :~)

    October 15, 2021 at 8:31 am

  4. Fascinating! Thanks for another batch of new information, accompanied by a stunning photo. Just amazing to think that on a cold morning, a bumblebee can warm up that much by shivering its wings!

    October 15, 2021 at 9:58 am

    • Hi Dell, I didn’t go into it, but they actually detach their wings somehow from their wing muscles, and the muscles shiver but not the wings!

      October 15, 2021 at 10:16 am

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