Tuesday, 10 November 2009


In this section you can post a question and I'll try to answer it, but do make sure you resd the FAQ page on the web site first as the question may have already been answered.


  1. What makes the thoracic muscles vibrate?

    Is it effectively just very fast muscle contractions... and if so is it nerve signals controlling these muscles? Are they normal muscles or specialist for the purposes of vibrating at high speed?

    Does the bee therefore have some sort of brain?

    Apologies if these are a dumb set of questions!

  2. The thoracic muscles are normally used to operate the wings. They are normal muscles controlled just like ours by nerve signals.

    The bumblebee does indeed have a brain, but it is pretty small and much less complicated than ours.

    Your questions are not dumb at all

  3. sometimes i think it would be great to have a less complicated brain. unfortunately i have to go to work tomorrow and use the more complicated one. i'm a honey bee beekeeper interested in the commercial production of bumblebees for pollination. i know it's a done thing but i'm having trouble finding good resources on it, or any type of explanation other than hobbyist/garden stuff. stumbled across your site and thought you might be able to help?

  4. Hi,
    The method of gettong queens to start a nest without hibernation, with a shortened hibernation or emerge from hibernation when needed is a commercial secret. That is why you won't find much freely available info. about it. However as a commercial beekeeper you already have some of the necessary stuff, e.g. a year round supply of pollen. I have heard that CO2 is involved, but I'm not sure about this. In the UK some species do already have multiple nests per year, so perhaps it is more a case of supplying newly mated queens with the temperature and resources to let them start a nest without hibernating. The big trick of course is to tell which new queens have mated. Good luck, I'd love to hear how you get on.

  5. hi, thanks for the quick response. until i find some actual literature on this, i'm afraid that i may be seen running around in the spring with a butterfly net comparing queen bees to see which is mated and which is not. all this secrecy surrounding bumblebees for commercial pollination suggests that it can't be all that complicated or there wouldn't be that many secrets. more like regular beekeeping in which the heavy boxes is what keeps many away. anyways, if you do stumble across some resources please let me know, your site is a good place to start. i too, will let you know how i get on when spring finally comes to western canada.

    these little critters are just so much more enticing than honey bees for some reason.

  6. What are bumblebees skin made of?

  7. The bumblebee skin is also its skeleton, and is made of chitin. This is a nitrogenous polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of arthropods and also in fungi. It is insoluble in water, alcohol, dilute acids and digestive juices.


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