Neil Pont

Wildlife Photography

Blog

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!

Oops, you forgot something.

Oops!

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

2148 Comments

Reply canada goose
15:22 on 29 November, 2020 
I wanted to jot down a simple word in order to thank you for those awesome information you are showing at this site. My time-consuming internet research has now been recognized with professional suggestions to go over with my friends. I 'd assert that we visitors actually are undoubtedly lucky to exist in a useful network with many special professionals with helpful ideas. I feel truly fortunate to have come across your entire web page and look forward to many more excellent times reading here. Thanks a lot once more for everything.
canada goose http://www.canadagooses-outlet.us.com
Reply moncler outlet
15:22 on 29 November, 2020 
I truly wanted to jot down a note to be able to express gratitude to you for some of the unique tricks you are placing at this website. My time consuming internet research has at the end been compensated with reasonable details to write about with my companions. I would believe that many of us readers actually are unquestionably lucky to dwell in a superb website with so many marvellous people with very helpful plans. I feel very happy to have used the webpages and look forward to tons of more excellent minutes reading here. Thank you again for everything.
moncler outlet http://www.monclersoutlet.us.com
Reply yeezy
15:22 on 29 November, 2020 
I would like to show my admiration for your kindness in support of those who really need help with this niche. Your very own dedication to passing the message along had been remarkably important and has truly empowered women much like me to realize their pursuits. Your amazing insightful key points denotes this much to me and still more to my mates. Thanks a lot; from all of us.
yeezy http://www.yeezy-boost.com
Reply yeezy boost 350 v2
15:21 on 29 November, 2020 
I and also my friends were actually taking note of the great tactics located on your web page and all of the sudden developed a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the website owner for those secrets. All of the boys became absolutely excited to read them and have in effect without a doubt been loving those things. Appreciation for simply being indeed considerate as well as for deciding upon this sort of cool ideas millions of individuals are really eager to be aware of. My personal honest regret for not saying thanks to you sooner.
yeezy boost 350 v2 http://www.yeezy-shoes.us.org
Reply yeezy shoes
15:20 on 29 November, 2020 
I simply wished to appreciate you again. I do not know what I would have gone through in the absence of the entire tricks provided by you directly on this subject. It seemed to be a scary condition for me personally, nevertheless understanding a well-written tactic you solved it took me to jump with happiness. Now i am thankful for the information and thus wish you really know what an amazing job you happen to be accomplishing training people through the use of your blog post. I'm certain you have never come across all of us.
yeezy shoes http://www.yeezysshoes.us.com
Reply off white jordan 1
15:20 on 29 November, 2020 
Needed to draft you one tiny word to finally thank you so much as before over the magnificent guidelines you have provided on this page. This has been certainly tremendously generous of people like you to give extensively all a lot of folks might have advertised for an electronic book to make some cash on their own, principally considering that you might have tried it if you ever wanted. The pointers as well served like the great way to recognize that other people online have a similar dream much like my own to learn very much more in respect of this problem. I believe there are several more enjoyable times up front for those who read your blog post.
off white jordan 1 http://www.offwhitexjordan1.com
Reply supreme shirt
15:20 on 29 November, 2020 
My wife and i have been lucky that Raymond could carry out his analysis by way of the precious recommendations he was given from your web site. It's not at all simplistic just to continually be giving away helpful hints which often many people may have been making money from. Therefore we take into account we've got the website owner to give thanks to for this. These explanations you made, the simple site menu, the friendships you can give support to engender - it is all impressive, and it's helping our son and the family believe that the article is thrilling, which is seriously pressing. Thank you for all the pieces!
supreme shirt http://www.supremeshirt.us.com
Reply 5 Colors Led Pdt Machine
14:33 on 29 November, 2020 
Reply Carlcal
13:39 on 29 November, 2020 
sildenafil 20 mg generic sildenafil 2019 canadian pharmacy no prescription needed cialis cost per pill 400 mg viagra
Reply aaa auto insurance
13:17 on 29 November, 2020 
auto insurance rates florida
Reply allstate
13:15 on 29 November, 2020 
general insurance
Reply cheap car ins
12:07 on 29 November, 2020 
direct car insurance
Reply Payday Loan
11:59 on 29 November, 2020 
payday loans near me
Reply Cam Sites
11:12 on 29 November, 2020 
cam girl videos
Reply Quick Loan
10:41 on 29 November, 2020 
poor credit simple payday loans
Reply Dencal
10:34 on 29 November, 2020 
kamagra jelly price thailand cialis online nz canadian pharmacy generic cialis drug levaquin viagra singapore price
Reply Kiacal
10:01 on 29 November, 2020 
where can you buy viagra uk
Reply Online Payday Loan
9:51 on 29 November, 2020 
loan exit delaware payday loans
Reply life insurance quote
8:27 on 29 November, 2020 
ing life insurance group life insurance policy
Reply Automatic Block Making Machine
8:12 on 29 November, 2020