We have 19 Species of Bumblebee in Ireland. Over half of these are in Urgent decline in numbers.
One of our most common being Bombus Terrestris, a common sight in Spring and Summer with its Black background colour, striped with White and Yellow.
Most of these Bumblebees are social in their behaviour living in a colony with a similar structure to that of our native honeybee's.
Ruled by a Queen with a workforce of female Workers and a small population of male Drones.
Queen: Queens are produced in the Bumblebee nest in late summer by the original ruling queen laying fertilised eggs. These will be raised by the Workers on a far richer diet which has the effect on changing a standard worker recently hatched larvae, into a prospective new Queen who will hopefully issue forth, mate, hibernate and start a new colony next spring. These newly emerged Queens in early spring are a wonderful sight to see !. A real sign of new life and the start of spring, they are the big fat Bumblebee's we see on those coldish sunny early spring day's out gathering the first available Pollen and Nectar. they will bring this back to their nests to feed the first few worker larvae that will hatch and takeover the tasks in the hive of cleaning, collecting nectar and Pollen and defending the hive if required.
Drones: Like to Honeybee Drone, the Bumblebee drone's sole function it is to mate with virgin Queens from another colony. These Drones live a charmed but short existence. They perform none of the tasks their worker sisters The female workers carrying out such jobs as cleaning, defend and forage for the colony. These drones wait for the time and opportunity to fly, and if as they say, "get lucky ", to ultimately mate ( and in aftermath of the process die ) with a Virgin Queen from another hive.