Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Bumble Bee Menage a Trois
I was on my way to a workshop at the Mount Pleasant Community Garden and a cluster of bumble bees skittered across the sidewalk in front of me. Luckily, I had my camera and I snapped these shots of a young queen mating with one male with another male riding piggy back. The queen heeded for some privacy and safety in the grass and she managed to shake of the bareback rider.
Here you can see the male who successfully mated with the queen. He is pumping sperm into the queen and then he excretes a fluid with hardens and creates a plug to keep in the love juice and prevent other males from gaining access. When honey bee drones mate with the queen they die, but I'm not sure about bumble bee males. This guy certainly looks "spent"!
Apparently there is new evidence that bumble bee males actually play a working role in the nest. According to bumblebee.org: "When the adult males emerge they spend a few days in the nest, but do no work, and then they leave the nest for good and forage for themselves. They can often be seen sheltering under the heads of flowers when it rains or when it gets dark. Well, that is what most of the books say, but recently it has been found that some North American bumblebee males do help in the nest by incubating the young, so their adult life is not just drinking, chasing queens and staying out all night long."