A Pretty Pollinator
A Tricolored Bumblebee, Bombus ternarius, visiting an Erica carnea 'Springwood White', a variety of Spring Heath. This bee is also known as an Orange-belted Bumblebee, for obvious reasons. The name bumblebee refers to any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, with New Zealand and Tasmania being exceptions. Bumblebees are social insects that are characterized by black, yellow or orange body hairs often in bands.
Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young. Bumblebees will also tend to visit the same patches of flowers every day, as long as they continue to find nectar and pollen.
What Makes Bees Buzz?
One common, yet incorrect, assumption is that the buzzing sound of bees is caused by the beating of their wings. The sound is actually the result of the bee vibrating its flight muscles. This is especially pronounced in bumblebees at low ambient temperatures.