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A Rainbow of Spirituality

The Amazing Bumble Bee

Unlike the honeybee, the bumblebee usually has fewer individuals in its colony. They do not store large amounts of honey like the honeybee does. Bumblebees are one of the few insects that can control their body temperature. In cold weather the queen and her workers can shiver their flight muscles to warm themselves allowing them to fly and work at lower temperatures than most other insects. Their large size and hairy coat also helps to keep them warm.

Yogi masters have been known to quiet their heartbeat and adjust their body temperatures when in an altered state. This skill is linked to the ancient initiations of mastering the body, mind and spirit. Those with this totem usually have strong past life ties connected to the ancient secrets of longevity and can benefit from the study and practice of yoga. They also make good hypnotherapists.

All bees are productive. They remain focused in their activities and do not get distracted from their goal. Their legs are one of their most sensitive organs. A bee actually tastes through its legs and reminds us to slow down, smell the roses and taste the sweet nectar of life. Hypoglycemia and diabetes can sometimes occur in those who carry this medicine. Therefore daily exercise and good nutrition is advised.

The bumblebee carries the power of service. They are important pollinators of many plants. As a bee lands upon one flower, collecting its nectar, pollen also attaches itself to the leg fibers. It is then transferred to other flowers, creating a fertilization process. Their movement from one plant to another symbolizes the interconnectedness of all living things. The bumblebee is a messenger that holds the secrets of life and service.

If your energy is scattered the bumblebee can show you how to regain focus. If it stings you, it is saying, wake up and follow the rhythm of your own heartbeat. When a bumblebee buzzes you it is asking you to follow its lead. In so doing you will arrive at the destination most appropriate for your new life awakening.

Discover the Bumble Bee

To begin with lets take a look at a bumble bee and her distant cousin the honey bee, with whom she is most often confused. Unlike the honey bee the humble bumble is gentle and slow. As she trundles around the garden collecting pollen and nectar she is quite different to her streamlined relative who dashes about everywhere. Even her body shape is different as you can see from the pictures. The bumble is round and furry and not at all like her more wasp shaped cousin. In fact as you can see from the photo there are three kinds of bumble bee, the large Queen, the smaller imperfectly formed female worker bee and the tiny male or drone bee. All are seen at different times of year. Only the Queen and the worker bees have a sting

Important Facts To Know About Bumble Bees 

  • Bumble bees do not produce enough honey for commercial use, just a few grams at a time to feed their young.
  • Not all bumble bees have a sting. Drones (smaller male bees that hatch in mid summer ) have no sting at all.
  • A bumble bees biggest enemy by far is a man armed with a pesticide spray. Like every other form of wildlife they are under serious threat from the chemicals we pour on the land.
  • Bumble bees are much less aggressive than honey bees. Generally they will not attack a human at all, unless their life is under threat. Don't wave your arms wildly in their presence, stand quietly and once they smell you are not a flower with pollen they will move gently away.
  • Bumble bees do not lose their sting and die if they use it, as a honey bee will.
  • Encourage the bumble bee in your garden or farm and she will repay your kindness by pollinating your flowers, fruit and vegetables and giving you an excellent set on your blossom.

The Life Cycle of the Bumble Bee

Every Autumn as the first frosts begin the mated young queens seek out a place to hibernate in safety. If you come across a live but sleepy bee in a pile of leaves in Winter don't damage it. Its not dying, just in a deep cold sleep like a hedgehog. Put it back where you found it and cover it gently against the cold.

In the first warm days of Spring you may see the large queens flying busily about the early bulbs and flowers. These large slow bees are searching for nectar and pollen to turn into honey and food for their newly hatching brood. So the organic gardener plants lots of pollen producing flowers and leaves an unmown patch of early dandelions in the wild garden or hedgerow to feed the young queens.

The queen will locate a suitable place to build her nest. There are over 200 types of bumble bee and they look for a variety of sites. Most common are the leaf litter in a hedge bottom, an old mouse hole, a cool dark place under a large stone or under the wooden floor of a garden shed or other building. Because the bumble bee does not live in a large colony the nest is usually little bigger than half a grapefruit even in the busiest days of high Summer.

The queen begins a new nest with a ball of pollen and wax into which she lays just a few (approx 6 ) eggs at a time. When the eggs hatch they try to eat their way through the pollen reserve but the queen continually adds to the pollen and wax sealing them in. Eventually the grubs pupate and the queen spins a bright yellow cocoon of the finest silk from which the grubs emerge a few days later as fully grown worker bees.

As soon as they dry their wings the worker bees begin work to support the colony and their queen. She continues to lay eggs but as it takes more and more of her time the pollen and nectar collection is delegated to the workers, the queen spending her whole time in the nest.

This co-operation continues throughout the high days of late Spring and Summer until the nest has reached the right size for its species. At that point the queen lays eggs destined to become next years queen bees as well as drones or male bees. The drones once hatched leave the nest and live independent lives, their only purpose being to mate with the young queens to ensure the survival of the species. Unlike honey bees the young bumble queens will continue to live and work in the mother colony for the remainder of the Summer and Autumn.

Come the first sharp drop in temperature and frosts the old queen, her workers and the independent drones will die. Only the newly mated queens will survive in hibernation to begin the cycle again the following Spring.


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