Are Bumble Bees Beneficial?
January 16, 2017
The buzzing sound of a bee is enough to make just about anyone cringe with fear. Some of us might even run away at the buzzing sounds of those insects. The thought of being stung by a bee is enough to make anyone run away screaming, especially if you’re allergic. Many people consider bees a pest that they could live without, but could you really? The bumble bee actually has some attributes that benefit humans quite a bit.
The biggest benefit that bumble bees provide is pollination. Just in case you don’t know, pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from the male anther of one flower to the female stigma of another flower. Bumble bees pollinate by a method called “buzz pollination”. This process involves pollen sticking to the bee from one flower and then the bee transferring the pollen to another flower. Bumble bees are actually responsible for nearly two-thirds of the U.S.’s total pollination. They’re not only attracted to “pretty” flowers, they also pollinate the plants that other insects don’t.
Bumble bees also pollinate in bad weather. Bumble bees are active even when the weather is bad, unlike other insects. Even when it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside, when it’s rainy, cloudy or foggy. They can also fly in winds up to 40 mph. Just a few of the many foods that bumble bees pollinate are kiwis, cherries, oranges, soybeans, cucumbers and much more.
All that being said, there are some dangers with bumble bees. As with other bees, bumble bees do have stingers that they can use to defend themselves or their nest. Only the females and the queens have stingers, but their stingers are not barbed so they can sting multiple times. However, do not let this deter you from bumble bees. Bumblebees are much less aggressive than other types of bees and will only try to sting if they are threatened or if their nest is threatened. Bumble bee stings are generally not dangerous. However, some people do have an allergic reaction to the venom and these reactions can range from mild to severe. If you do have a severe reaction, call 911 immediately. The easiest way to avoid being stung by a bumble bee is to not disturb their nest and be gentle when bumble bees are around. Your first reaction to hearing the buzzing sound will be to wave your arms or swat at the bee, but that will only provoke it and cause it to sting you. Just be calm and the bee won’t sting you.
Because bumble bees are such great pollinators, having them in your garden is a blessing. They will allow your garden to grow and flourish. The bumble bee population is currently on the decline, so please do not try and kill bumble bees if you encounter any. Consider yourself very lucky if they are in your garden.
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