California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

California Bumblebees * Bombus californicus

California Bumblebees are solitary nesting bees. They are usually quite calm and rarely sting. This California Bumblebee is hanging onto a Nevin's Barberry flower, Mahonia nevinii. California Bumblebees are very active and can be very effective pollinators. California Bumblebees can pollinate as many as 10 times as many flowers as a honey bee can. We have had a severe decline in the number of honeybees in our garden and an equivalent increase in the numbers of these guys and other native bees. California Bumblebees are active from mid Spring into the Fall in our area. By reputation they favor native plants. There were a wide variety of plants in bloom in my garden as I photographed and the California Bees were only on the natives. California Bumblebees gather pollen with their jaws and also do a process described as buzz pollenation. They vibrate their wings while gathering the pollen which dislodges pollen through the flower. You can see the blur in the wingtips in these photos. California Bumblebees can fly in colder conditions and in lower light conditions than honeybees. Mid day the Nevin's Barberry was covered with honeybees, near sunset only the California Bumblebees were left. California Bumblebees like Lupines, Sages, Asters and plants in the Pea family.

California Bumblebee, Bombus californicus

California Bumblebee getting nectar from a Nevin's Barberry flower. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

California Bumblebee, Buzz Pollenation

California Bumblebee getting nectar vibrating its wings performing Buzz Pollenation. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.