Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Attack of the Honey Bees

 A few years ago in September I visited Happy Holler Conservation Area and discovered a large number of bumble bees and honey bees all fighting over the use of the thistle blooms. There was very little else in bloom and it seemed they did not want to share the bounty. It was mostly the Honey bees acting as aggressor, whereas the bumble bees mostly ignored them.

The honey bees poked, prodded, bit and walked all over the much larger bumble bees all to no avail. It was as if those bumble bees knew that the honey bees could not...or would not hurt them. After all we all know that once a honey bee stings it dies, perhaps the bumble bee also knew this.

I had never seen this particular behavior before this time, and I have not seen it since. I've even made a point of going back to the exact same area each fall to document the insects there and what behavior is taking place. Much to my disappointment nothing as dramatic as this behavior has taken place that I am aware of.

It really goes to show that insects are always fascinating, incredibly unique and never, ever boring. I can't help but wonder if these little bees just never learned to share.


  1. Great series of shots, and interesting observations! The little honey bees remind me of my small mugsly dog...pesty and obnoxious but too small for the biggers to be terribly bothered by it :-P

  2. Never noticed the aggression, perhaps the other just flew off.I hope this isn't another honey war.LOL

  3. Wow. Super interesting.

    I'm glad the bumblebees were relatively unperturbed. The honeys are non-native (I assume), after all, so I'll always be on the native's side. =) Especially since the bumbler was probably willing to share.

  4. Thanks Geek, I was very shocked to find these honey bees acting so aggressively towards the bumble bees. It was almost humorous to see how those bumble bees were ignoring the honey bees. It was as if a mere gnat was pestering them.

  5. LOL Steve, thankfully the bumbles bees were even tempered and not bothered at all by the attempts of the honey bees to run them off

  6. Bio I agree I would have to be on the side of the native bumble bee after all they were behaving quite nicely...not at all like the greedy little honey bees....LOL