Bumblebees are members of the bombus genus of bees, of which many species are native to north Idaho and northwest Montana. Bumblebees are particularly well adapted to our area in part because they are able to fly at lower temperatures than many other types of bees. Bumblebees are a crucial part of a healthy environment as they are responsible for pollination of many plants, and are much more efficient pollinators than honey bees, because bumblebees eat pollen, rather than nectar. Bumblebees are particularly good pollinators of tomatoes, blueberries, cucumbers and squash.
As you start work on your garden, consider adding some bee-friendly plants – bumblebees are particularly attracted to plants with blue or purple flowers, so some good choices include lupine, plants of the salvia family or Idaho native penstemon flowers.
Interesting facts about Bumblebees:
- Only female bumblebees have stingers
- Using a mechanism known as “shivering” bumblebees can fly when it is as cold as 55 degrees outside
- Bumblebees can use both scent and atmospheric electricity to detect if another bee has recently visited a flower
- For many years, bumblebees were also called humble-bees
- Bumblebees are such good pollinators that they were imported to New Zealand to help produce red clover