Like honeybees, bumblebees are not native to New Zealand. Bumblebee species were introduced from the United Kingdom for the pollination of red clover at the turn of the 20th century, with four species becoming established. Bumblebees are members of the same family of bees as honeybees, the Apidae family.
The NZ Bumblebee Conservation Trust plays an important role in advocating for the bumblebee and promotes the conservation and long term future of bumblebees in New Zealand. Follow them on Facebook here.
If you have a hive of bumblebees, don’t worry - leave them to get on with the great service they provide to us humans.
How bumble bees live..
Bumblebees are large, hairy bees are generally black with varying degrees of yellow bands.
Bumblebees are social, living together in colonies of up to 250 bees. The queens hibernates underground during the winter, emerging in spring to find a suitable nest location. Each queen then builds a nest of dried grasses and then lays about a dozen eggs that hatch into workers – sterile females.
The workers gather pollen and nectar to feed later batches of bees. The males and new queens hatch out and mate at the end of the season. Then the males, old queens and workers die and the new queens hibernate in readiness for the next season. Bumblebees will only sting if they feel threatened and are not aggressive.
Bumblebees are great pollinators
Bumblebees have a crucial role to play in pollinating many of our flowers and agricultural crops, such as raspberries and broad beans. In New Zealand bumblebees are bred especially for pollinating tomatoes in glass houses.
Unlike other insect pollinators such as honey bees, they can be seen foraging out earlier and later in the day collecting nectar and pollen to feed their brood.
New Zealand exported bumblebees.
The population of bumblebees worldwide is in decline. The UK has suffered a large decline in the number of bumble bees.
In 2010 an effort was made to export bumblebees from New Zealand to the UK in an effort to restock the UK population. More information can be found on the Guardian website here. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful.
A detailed article of the outcome can be found on the Guardian website here .