Ohio Bumble Bee Queen Survey

Thank you for volunteering to be part of the 2018 Ohio Bumble Bee queen survey! By submitting data on when and where bumble bee queens are nest-hunting and on what plants they are feeding, you are giving us important information on the status of bumble bees in Ohio and how to protect them. Healthy bumble bee populations start with queens. Bumble bee nests are annual, starting again each year from a new queen. In late March or April, queens emerge from their winter burrows underground and begin searching for nest sites, and then later collect pollen and nectar to feed their new brood. About a month after a queen founds a new nest, her first group of workers will emerge (in mid- to late May). In June – July, if the colony is doing well, the queen will produce males and new queens in mid and late summer to carry on her genetic line. Those new queens will mate, then overwinter in abandoned rodent burrows, under logs, or in leaf litter to start a nest the following spring. Spring queens that are actively searching for a nest site will fly low and slowly over the ground in a back and forth sweeping pattern, stopping occasionally to disappear down a hole/ crevice to invest a potential site. Here’s an example of what that looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKv1IOVVIu4 

This queen survey is being done in conjunction with a larger statewide Ohio bumble bee survey. The goals are to: (1) Determine if an endangered bumble bee species (Bombus affinis, the rusty-patched bumble bee) and another of conservation concern (B. terricola, the yellow banded bumble bee) still occurs in Ohio, and if so, where. (2) Document the status of other common bumble bee species in the state (3) Add to our understanding of the factors that can cause bumble bee declines, like lack of flower resources and land use change.

Researchers & Contact Information

Attached is a document that contains more detailed information on the Ohio Bumble Bee Survey.