Have you ever heard buzzing noises when playing outside near flowers? Chances are, you probably heard bumblebees collecting pollen. Bees have very important jobs, and that job is regulated by a colony’s queen. Bumblebee queens are responsible for finding a new nest for her workers and creating new bees to populate the colony. Every spring, the queen comes out of her long hibernation to feed and build her colony. If you’re not sure what a queen bee looks like, it can be hard to distinguish her from the rest of her colony.
The size of a bumblebee queen ranges between 20 and 33 mm or about the size of a quarter. A queen bumblebee is noticeably larger than her worker bees.
Queen bumblebees look very similar to worker bees. They all have a thick, yellow collar around their heads, yellow stripes on their black bodies, and a white tail.
Female bumblebees have pollen baskets on their legs that allow them to store pollen as they travel from flower to flower. Male bumblebees do not have a pollen basket, making it easier to tell a female bumblebee from her male colony members.
Male bumblebees have 13 antennae while female bumblebees have 12.
Entomologist Note: Bumblebees have an important job to do when out and about in nature. Be sure to observe bumblebees from a safe distance and under the supervision of a grownup, like a parent or teacher. Do not attempt to handle or touch any stinging insects and keep a safe distance from hives and nests.