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Are bumblebees territorial?

11 May 2022
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Yes, male bumblebees will emerge in early spring before any queens. They stake out territory and try to mate with any queens that enter while driving away any competing males that try to enter their domain.

This territorial attitude extends only as far as other males within their species rather than humans.

Carpenter bees are often mistaken as territorial bumblebees due to their large size and very similar characteristics.

Male carpenter bees will try to intimidate any animals that enter their domain including humans, while they have no sting they are well known to buzz around in very close proximity to people's faces.

Why are male bumblebees so territorial?

Male members of the genus Bombus will emerge much earlier than their female counterparts.

This normally occurs in early spring as temperatures begin to rise again.

A male bumblebee's first task is to find a suitable area to call his own.

The aim here is to mate with a bumblebee queen so males will generally set up in areas rich in nectar and pollen that would be appropriate for a nest.

After settling on a site males will hover in a circular motion around their territory, patrolling for any potential queens or mating rivals.

Do male bumblebees fight for territory?

Yes, male bumblebees will regularly fight for territory and the ability to mate and reproduce.

Male bumblebees do not live very long after mating and their sole purpose is to reproduce with a queen of the species.

This can lead to confrontations between males particularly when two territories overlap.

Males can be observed buzzing frantically next to each other and even grounding each other in a battle for dominance over their territory.

Ironically the males of the species are completely devoid of a stinger so much of their display of aggression is more bark than bite.

Head over to our short read on the early bumblebee to find out more about the fascinating world of bees.

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