P1050569P1010344Bombus spp.

This bumble bee has a full pollen basket (corbicula).  It is the corbicula which differentiates the bumble bee from the carpenter bee.  The top photo was taken on October 10, 2013 on a climbing aster.   The lower photo, in March 2013, shows a parsley haw blossom.

All five species of bumble bees found in Florida can be found as far north as Canada.  They are less common in South Florida and absent in the Florida Keys.

They are social insects and live in colonies.  Fertile queens winter in the soil and appear in early spring to feed on flowers.  They seek nests in former rodent burrows to begin a new colony.

Bumble bees are important pollinators.  The sting can be painful and with sometimes severe reactions.

A sub genus which has lost their ability to colonize and to gather pollen are cleptoparasites on the pollen collecting Bombus species. The female bee lays her egg in the egg cells of pollen collecting bees, which larvae are subsequently fed by these bees.  Generally, most wasps and most bees, do not feed larvae which are not their own species.  They do not have corbicula and the most common of this type of bee is Bombus variabilis.

This bee was photographed on March 12, 2013.