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
Important Facts To Know About
- 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
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
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
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
Animal Totems Definitions