Bumble Bees
Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild

The Bumble bee is native to California and can be encouraged to pollinate your yard by giving some of them a local home. Being a social insect they live in a hive like the honey bee but the structure and life style are very different from the honey bee. A good honey bee hive may have 40000 bees but a Bumble bee hive will be closer to a hundred or so bees and they are more passive than the honey bee if you are worried about stings.

Their home is, in the most basic form, just a box will some upholster's cotton in it (not medical cotton). The box has a entrance hole and is placed in a protected place.

Since Bumble bees, except for the queens, do not live over the winter keeping these maintaining these bees year to year differs greatly from wintering a honey bee hive. Some members have or have had Bumble bees, so attend a meeting to meet someone with at least some experience with them.

There seems to be a lack of general infomation of "keeping" Bumble bees on the web, but here are some links to get you started:

Knox Cellars
They offer a book on the Bumble Bee and the "Humble Bumble Home".

Breeding Bumble Bees
A published paper on the subject that seems to be missing the figures but may be of interest.

Beetools
A page that tells how to make a home for Bumble bees.

The Bumble Bees of San Francisco
Be sure to follow the link "Guide to SF Bumbus" as you look around the site.

Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
April 28, 2005