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Does the sight of a bumble bee fill you with dread? It shouldn’t: although larger, it is less aggressive than the honey bee and will only attack if threatened. Also, unlike honey bees, bumble bees never form an angry swarm because their nests are small. After winter hibernation the queen bee constructs a nest in an old mouse hole or leaf litter or, sometimes, under a shed or large stone. Subsequently, she lays the eggs from which female worker bees develop. While the worker bees collect nectar, the queen continues egg laying. From those eggs laid in late summer, male drones and queen bees develop, the drones’ sole purpose in life being to mate with the young queens, thus ensuring the survival of the species. Come the first frosts, the old queen, worker bees and drones die, leaving the young queens to hibernate and await the warmth of spring. We rely on the bumble bee to pollinate our plants, but with buildings replacing their habitats, and pesticides poisoning their food source, man is the greatest threat to their species.

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