The Bumblebee Life Cycle

The Bumblebee queen overwinters underground. This queen hibernates in an abandoned mousehole.She has been busy preparing for the winter
and has built up her fat reserves feeding on plenty of sweet nectar. During the winter if her body temperature dips too low she can produce her
own antifreeze, preventing her body from freezing.

 

 

In the spring the queen emerges from the safety of the overwintering site.  She uses the heat from the sun to provide the energy needed to go off and
feed.   She quickly finds nectar rich spring flowers and regains her strength.    She now must find a suitable place to start her nest.   The queen finds the
ideal place beneath a hedgerow.


 

 

                                        

Having been mated soon after hatching the previous summer the queen prepares for laying her first eggs about 2 weeks after. coming out of
 hibernation.The queen moulds a honeypot using her own wax. She also builds up a store of protein-rich pollen which she feeds on and forms
the
 remainder into a ball. Feeding on pollen stimulates her ovaries to begin laying. The eggs are laid onto the pollen ball and brooded by the queen.


 

                                        

After 4 days of brooding the eggs begin to hatch. The queen forms protective cells for the larvae to continue developing within. A small opening is
 left at the top to enable the queen to feed the larvae. The queen feeds the larvae mainly on pollen and forages on flowers nearest the nest to limit
 the chances of the larvae getting too cold. As the larvae grow she concentrates on laying another brood of eggs.


 

                                       

Four to five weeks after the first eggs were laid the first workers emerge as adults. They are smaller than the workers from later broods but just as
capable.They collect pollen to feed the larvae and nectar for the honey pots, They nurture the rest of the colony as it continues to develop and grow
in size.and protect the queen.

 

 

****Beepol colonies are between 6-8 weeks old when they are dispatched to Dragonfli customers****

At 16 weeks the nest is buzzing with life, filled to capacity with the queen and workers. The queen has been busy producing fertilised eggs which no longer become workers but become queens. She also lays unfertilised eggs which develop into males. These larvae have been fed more and also more frequently than the workers and are now in the pupal stage
 

 

At 17 - 18 weeks the male bumblebees leave the nest to find a mate. The males fly over the same areas marking flowers and trees with their
pheromones to attract queens. Approximately a week later the queens emerge and mate with the males.


Between18-24 weeks the original colony comes to an end. The existing queen, her workers and any males die. Only the new queens produced this season  will survive. These queens go off to find sites to overwinter, they build up their fat reserves ready to withstand the cold weather and start new colonies the following year.


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