Numerous bumble bee species can be found throughout the world, and unlike most social insects, bumble bee species are most diverse and abundant in northern regions as opposed to tropical regions due to their preference for cooler climates. Bumble bee species can be found in every US state, including Alaska, but they are most prevalent in the northernmost states. During the fall, single bumble bee queens overwinter in below-ground nests, or they may establish overwintering sites beneath lawn litter, within tree hollows, abandoned rodent nests, and sometimes, within homes and other structures, like sheds and garages. Once spring arrives, queens come out of hibernation and establish suitable colony nesting sites. Bumble bees that appear around homes usually originate from below-ground nests in yards, but in rare cases, nests are found within wall voids, particularly in old rodent nests within wall voids.
As it happens, pest control professionals are frequently called upon to address bumble bee pest issues within and around homes. According to a 2016 nationwide survey of pest control professionals, bumble bees were the fifth most commonly managed stinging insects in residential areas. While bumble bees pose an envenomation threat to humans, individual bumble bees found around flowers are not aggressive toward humans. However, bumble bees become aggressive toward anyone or anything that disturbs their nest, and such nest disturbances are not uncommon on residential properties. Outdoor bumble bee stings often occur after lawnmowers or other noisy devices and/or people inadvertently disturb ground nests. Most indoor bumble bee stings occur when humans accidentally disturb hidden nests while cleaning or rummaging through storage areas. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees possess smooth stingers, allowing them to sting repeatedly, but allergic reactions to bumble bee stings are far less common than allergic reactions honey bee stings. Removing a problem honey bee nest either indoors or outdoors should always be performed by a pest control professional.
Have you ever encountered bumble bees within your home?