Sonoran Bumblebee

Photo taken in Rose Canyon © Karen Straus/San Diego Audubon Society

Fun Facts:

  • Bumblebees are much larger than honey bees which means their colonies are also smaller.
  • They do not tend to swarm their enemies as a large bumblebee colony has only around 1000 bees.
  • Bumblebee nests are far less orderly than Honey Bee nests. They often resemble piles of debris as they use fur and leaves for insulation
  • Bumblebees will not die after using their sting.

This large, beautiful bee is native to the Western US. The males patrol territories and die soon after they mate. The queen creates a nest and gathers nectar and pollen to raise her first few offspring. Once they become adults, they do the foraging and tend to the offspring, while she lays eggs. After a year, she dies, the colony ends and a new virgin queen leaves to mate with a wandering male, then find a place to stay dormant until the next building season arrives. San Diego had about 600 species of native bees. Many are solitary and live in wood or underground tunnels and do not make honey. Honey bees are not native to the americas. European settlers brought them in the 1600’s. Honey bees now outvompete many of out native bees for nectar and pollen. Habitat preserves like Rose Canyon provide important homes for our native plants and animals, Including our native bees.


What causes the buzzing sound that we associate with bees?

Click here for the answer:

Bees flap their wings at a rate of 11,000 times a minute, which is why you can only see each individual flap in slow motion.